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Wednesday, 17 March 2021


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The power of photography!
And...man, your uncle's picture seems to be taken today.

Can't say enough about shooting "square". One of the whole reasons I bought into M4/3rds was to set the aspect ratio to 1:1 and walk around shooting like I was using a Rollei. I've done it multiple times and will keep doing it!

I will say this, when I was still a studio owner, and was looking for a 120 camera to shoot some corporate annual report stuff, I bought into the Hasselblad system because the lenses were the best (being a CZ fan), and it sync'd with all speeds. At that time, the early Mamiya RB stuff had "iffy" lenses, and the Bronica was a focal plane shutter (before the later SQ, 6X7, and 6X.45); there didn't seems to be many options to "count on" as a pro.

Eventually, the RB lenses got better, especially the last KL series, and the RZ stuff came along, as well as the later series Bronica's, BUT, I will say that there is sort of a "tyranny" associated with the square. When you are shooting it, the square sort of dictates most of what you're going to end up doing, especially when it comes to corporate portraits and groups.

I ended up buying a few RB's, with later series lenses, and probably 75% of the time, if I'm doing 120, I'll grab the RB before I'll grab the Hasselblad. Now that it's virtually all digital, if I could get anything for my "mint" Hasselblad stuff, I'd probably sell it and buy a clean Mamiya 6 for walking around when I want the square.

I just checked and even the latest Fuji E4 offers 1:1, 3:2 and 16:9 but not 4:3. I would have thought that modern cameras would have incorporated as many of the aspect ratios from medium or large format as possible, as well as 4:3. If they include 16:9, presumably for the convenience of those making timelapses in HD video aspect, you'd think they'd offer other aspects too for maximum convenience.

Kensington Racetrack? Well, that's really remote! You likely meant Keeneland Race Course, in Lexington, KY.

Square format can simplify things- particularly portraits (eg- William Coupon).

And why Fuji only squares the jpg, and doesn't have 4:3, I'll never know...

Should you turn your Fujis to square format you will be using an effective sensor size of 15.6mm x 15.6mm.
Good old Pythagoras gives us an image diagonal of 22mm.
The Fujinon 23mm lenses will be the "normal" or "standard" lenses for square shootin’.

Square shooting can be a reflex action, or
visa versa.

Hello Mike, I think you may mean Keeneland racetrack, not Kensington. https://www.keeneland.com

[Thank you Michael. Fixed now. --Mike]

Instamatic 104: camera-wiki to the rescue:

Type: viewfinder film camera
Manufacturer: Kodak
Year of launch: 1965
Film: 126 film cartridge
Lens: Plastic, single element, meniscus; 1:11/43mm
Shutter: mechanical leaf, with speeds of 1/90 sec. and (with flashcube attached) 1/40 sec.
Flash: Flashcubes (not Magicubes or X-Cubes)
Price: $15.95

I've been looking at that "Square" option in iphones all this time but never thought it might be a solution to the handling problem, and I even like square format! My policy against in-camera cropping was too rigid for my own good, perhaps. I've definitely lost some self-respect as a photo hacker.

So, anyway, Thank you for the tip! I made the switch and I'll see how it goes. However, it won't solve the problem of lack of handling area, which is the root of the awkwardness. Maybe I should look around for an aftermarket grip ;)

"I confess I didn't know that I could set my Fujis to shoot square."-Mike

This only works when the camera image quality is set to a JPEG + RAW capture setting format (e.g. F+RAW).

Helps to read the manual, too. Just sayin'. ;-)

... I don't know its speed or focal length, either. (Anyone know? It was an Instamatic 104.)...

According to this


it was a plastic 43mm, f/11, single-element meniscus.

P.S. I should have known that there are quite a few attempts at a camera grip for phones. Many are more elaborate than I'd want, but this one may be a contender--minimal but extensible:


I have always liked the square format. Alas, once I began wearing tri-focals, 16:9 seemed normal.
On the upside, in the out of focus areas, the bokeh is pretty good.

Fuji cameras have a 1:1 setting when shooting Jpeg or Jpeg+Raw with two slots. When shooting RAW the aspect ratios are unavailable. This was checked on my oldest X-E2 and newest X-T4.

Hi Mike, Speaking of single element meniscus lenses, check this out when you have a moment: https://www.flickr.com/photos/flickart43/27953202560/in/dateposted/. There are other good examples on Flickr. Re square photos, I think some are just better in that format. I use it whenever I think it gives me the best composition. Cheers, Arthur LOcke.


You continue to inspire me. Not just in my photography, but also in my feelings of my past. Having been born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois and spent all of my early years up to age 18, I always enjoy your looking back on Oak Park Camera and its effect on my love of cameras. I would frequent there many years after as my parents and brother lived in The Village (biggest one in the country back then), until this late 1990s.
Later, in the 1970s, I loved in many towns in the Southeast Wisconsin area. I was a Reimer's, Casanovas's and later a Crivello's fan.
Now, in today's OLP article you mention not only a couple, now in their 80's that tough from Kentucky, know the absolute BEST place to find peace and tranquility. BWCA, or Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Quetico Provincial Park across the Canadian border.
Thank you to your aunt and uncle for giving you the memories and your ability to pass then along.
Continued good health and good shooting to you, both photographic and pool/billiards,

The first camera that was my very own was a Brownie Bullet. Likely it was made just a few miles from where I live now. It also took 127 film, but in roll form, and I’m sure the lens was also a meniscus. So the quality was pretty low, but when I could afford to use (the original) Kodacolor, the results were kind of dreamy. I still have prints around here somewhere - I continued to use it even after I had graduated from university until I eventually got my first OM-1. Now I shoot square with a Rolleiflex, but I’ve always thought it would be fun to have a compact 127 camera with a good, modern lens, exposure control, etc.

Oops, I LIVED..in Oak Park! Until THE late 90's. That THOUGH in their 80".

I need to proofread before I hit "SEND"...sorry,


I'd place "golden age of American horse racing" as the period from Citation's Triple Crown (1948) right up to the time of the 1990 Breeders' Cup, the year that the outstanding filly Go For Wand broke down in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Every decade during that lengthy duration was memorable, and preserved the continuity of the sport's rich tradition. Sadly, the introduction (1984) of the Breeder's Cup event gradually displaced that tradition. Major races at other sites became minor attractions. The significance of progressive winning wilted, and the exciting challenge implicit in handicap racing died, so "racing" is now mostly a breeding business. Also a handy target for zealots that never really understood thoroughbreds anyway.

I suspect Aunt Mary would not agree that she never worked. I think there is a better way to phrase that statement.

Nico: When I had an X100S I loved shooting square with the 23mm lens. I got the 2/23 for my X-Pro1 a few years ago. It was the only lens I took it to Portland, Oregon in 2019 and I did a miniseries of a cute candycolored upscale gentrified neighborhood at night. I was hoping to continue it in 2020 to make a project out of it but COVID put the kibosh on that.

My first camera was the Kodak Instamatic 104 in 1972.

Nice portraits. Talk about time travel.

Though the date is when it was developed, nor taken. Many photographers back then kept the film in so long, lab techs said they often had on on roll of film: sand, snow, sand.

You might have been quicker than the average shooter.

I still like white bordered prints. I consider these finished snapshot photographs. The 4x6 borderless they went to later feel like images, but not photographs.

You want to hear something really stupid? A digital camera could be programmed to allow the user to enter whatever aspect ratio they want, yet no manufacturer seems to have ever thought to offer such a feature.

Square? Is there any other aspect ratio?


Square is my shape to work in. I always photographed in what ever the camera gave me. I now realise this dogmatic approach caused me to hate particular cameras.

The first photograph on my first mirrorless camera was square and I rarely take it off. I look at older photographs and wish I had shot them square.

When I rediscovered square it was like finding home.

Some photographers shoot all aspect ratios whilst love the restriction of just one. Well that’s me.

Go for it Mike. Perhaps you’ll love it over time. Then again if it’s not you why bother pushing it.

At one point I was using a Contax 139 (35mm SLR), Mamiya 645 (120 SLR) and Rolleiflex more or less at the same time. I found there were subtle differences between the pictures I would see and take on the ground glass, as opposed to looking through the viewfinder; and those I would see and take in square format, as opposed to rectangular. I would rarely crop rectangular to square, and almost never square to rectangular. It sounds like I was allowing myself to be limited by my equipment, but it never felt like that. I will be interested in your experiences with square format.

One of my surprise is that as many so call medium format digital camera use 4433 and you do square or 33x33, many 135 lens can be used. Yes 50 down to 30 mp. But that is ok.

I have my Panasonic GX1 permanently set to square and B&W. Outfitted with a Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens it's my go to street and walking around camera.

My latest little hiking camera is the Panasonic LX100 Mk2. It has a slider switch on the lens barrel that changes the aspect ratio to 3:2, 4:3, 1:1, or 16:9. I thought it was a gimmick at first, but it fast became my favorite feature. It really nudges my creativity, and I'm always switching among the settings based on what I'm looking at. I most use 16:9, but 1:1 is a close second. 4:3 and 3:2 are fallbacks when the others don't work. Quite a change from always using 3:2 on my old Canon 5d Mk2.

P.S. I'm jealous of your aunt and uncle's life.

I enjoy the square format! In fact, when I closely analyze many of my own frames I very often find that cropping to a square, not necessarily at center, improves the intensity of the image.

But I only shoot square with the Hassy 907x...mainly for the same reason that the Hassy 500's and the TLRs used a square; it's not well-suited for turning 90 degrees while shooting.

Uncle is wearing a Trilby, I believe?

Besides Kodak, a German company also made a 126 SLR. I forget who it was, but my father had one and it was my first experience with a "real camera".

I may have been lucky but my Rollei SL-26 took very sharp pictures. Had interchangeable lens too! Very nice Kodachrome slides. A camera I wish I still had for sentimental reasons.

I seldom shoot square. This was the only square shot I could find, the rest were crops.

The parking lot of a hotel in Newport Beach, California. March 31,2020, 11:20:11 AM. This was the start of the lockdown, and no-one was visiting either the beach or or Disnyland.
iPhone XS- ISO 16, 6mm f/2.4 @ 1/305 second (portrait mode f/1.4).

Proper technique is key to shooting with a smartphone. Hold the phone like you were picking-up a paper-back novel, or your credit card—between thumb and forefinger. RN's take many photos with a small iPad every shift. The RN's hold the tablet between thumb and forefinger—no need for a two handed grip.

Do not hold your smart phone at arms length. Use it like you would use live view on you ILC. That's about 5 inches for me.

I have many digital cameras that can shoot in different aspect ratios, but it always seems a shame to throw away perfectly good pixels. Imagine my surprise when I learned the Panasonic LX1 has a 16:9 sensor, so shooting that way is the optimum way! The later LX2 even has a 16:9 LCD screen, and I find myself wanting to own one. It's not an aspect ratio I love, and newer higher-resolution cameras I own will produce better images even after throwing away several rows of pixels from the top and bottom of their sensors, but there is just something that seems... appropriate about using the LX2 in its native format that I want to try out, for the sake of purity and experimentation.

Because I favored Kodachrome II and Kodachrome 25 films, I often turned to the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L lens, a superb lens, even wide open. As my digital cameras produce good results at high ISO values, I rarely use my fastest lens, a prime lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.7. The second fastest lens that I own today is a prime lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.5. My zoom lenses are even slower.

The fastest lens on my iPhone 12 Pro Max is f/1.6 and the image quality is excellent.

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