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Saturday, 07 January 2023


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History is cyclical. I bought (and still shoot) a nearly new Hasselblad for a song, when all the wedding photographers were dumping them at the start of the digital fad.

I believe the Dave Edmunds line is "From bad things, mama, good things sometimes come." I'll have to look for the LP, I know it's around here somewhere.

[The line is "Sometimes bad is bad." The song "Bad Is Bad" was on the 1979 album Repeat When Necessary.



Saw that early digitals reborn article this morning in the NYT. I had been experimenting with them over the last several years with the premise that some of them, notably Olympus, had some interesting takes on in-camera software conversion that were applied to the low digital input, even with small chips. Some of the cameras really made their output sing. The goldilocks area seemed to be cameras that had good lenses, minimal zooms and a 1/2.3”, but under 1” sensor to keep them affordable. Now I can purge the herd!

I did wonder out loud, possibly at a Photo Society meeting, whether people would start to buy old DSLRs and digi-compacts to obtain 'the grain' in their photos which was fast becoming an endangered species with the camera makers' chase for ever-greater pixel counts. There was a bit of a murmur; some agreeing and, no doubt, some disagreeing.

The thing for us oldie photographers is that you want a camera that is straightforward to use, especially if you are a professional (or retired professional) using a range of equipment. That is sadly not the case for the current crop of Olympus eFinder cameras about which I could tell a tale. A few years back, I bought an E-520 because I knew it was simple and straightforward to use and could access quickly the essentials: ISO, file size, picture quality, etc.

I think it is one’s own vision plus the given moment that makes a picture sing.
(To be honest if I had a choice between shooting with an old digicam and my iPhone the latter would be my pick.)

I read that article this morning and thought of you, Michael. I knew you’d read it and comment on it (you’re so predictable).

I sent it on to my two adult sons, one of whom (36) has been into retro gear for well over ten years. Dumb phones, Casio watches, LPs and turntables, and a slew of “ancient” cameras. Including one he got this past weekend, a Sony Cyber-Shot with 7 (count ‘em - 7!) MP with Carl Zeiss lens.

All of which got me thinking of my very first digital camera, a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LC5. 4 MP, it made some very nice files. Cut my teeth on digital photography and PS on that camera in a community college summer class.

It’s very cool to see the “kids” rummaging around in their parent's (or grandparent's) junk drawers, digging up these digicams. I wonder how long the fascination will last…

The new trends are not just about Gen Z and are not just about cameras. A lot of people in our own ancient generation seems to have the same retro perspective about tons and tons of "black and white photo masters" and their photographs. Much of the adulation of past generations of photographers' work is misplaced. Many of the supposed masters of the day (1950's to 1980's) were respected and revered merely because they were able to operate their tools and muddle through the routine darkroom tasks better than the less experienced amateurs of the day. In retrospect so much of their work is mundane and always was. Just because we saw someone's work in the 1969 March edition of Modern Photo or Pop Photo certainly didn't mean that the bulk of the work would stand the test of time or that we should worship it endlessly without some sort of informed re-appraisal. But sadly that seems the case today. Sentiment trumping informed observation. The vintage of the work out-performing the content.

English usage is such a fun area in which to find nits to pick and I must state at the outset that there have been quite a few who have found nits in my own usage.

Having said that I think I found a nit in your struggle with "quote" and "quotation":

What you do when you quote something is to create a quotation within your own text but the text you are quoting, in its original source document. is not a quotation unless the author of your document was themself quoting that text from a different source.

We can tell the difference because we enclose our own quotation within quotation marks and when we quote text which itself included a quotation, we reproduce the quotation marks shown in the text we're quoting from. A quote of a quotation is identifiable in print because within the quotation marks we use to denote our act of quotation there will appear the quotation marks the author of the text we're quoting from used to denote their own quotation of someone else's text. The texts you quoted were only within single quotation marks which tells us that you were not quoting something which actually was a quotation, you were quoting original statements made by the author of the text from which you quoted.

The verb "quote" refers to an act which creates a quotation so quotations can only exist within text other than their original source. In order to quote a quotation one has to quote something which itself was a quotation within the text one is quoting from. You did not do that.

[Monty Python voice: My brain hurts! --Mike]

I have two 'as new' Canon G6. In great light, with care, they take more pleasing images thank my Lumix G85 processed through ON1.

It shouldn't be possible. It simply is.

This is great! I have an old barely used digicam which used those little micro- cassettes. It was a gift from my mother to take ‘movies’ of my kids when they were small. It’s been collecting dust and I feel guilty that it really didn’t get used. Now it actually might have some value!

I still have the Super8 camera which was used to take real movies of my sister and I. I had thought of using it for my kids, but, even though the film was still available, it was outrageously expensive. So I didn’t do it. Would have been fun though! Super 8- now that has character!

Hmm. I still have a working, almost pristine, Epson R-D1 with either a Voightlander 35 or 50mm lens. (I'm not near the camera to look, and haven't looked in a couple of years.) 6mp, if I'm not mistaken. This trend could make my fortune!

"Young people are reveling in the novelty of an old look."

Doesn't Photoshop have a setting for that?

Enjoyed your commentary today . Well done. Should I sell my Fujifilm and Ricoh GRIII cameras and regress to Daguerreotype plates? Perhaps a pin-hole camera constructed from a Quaker Oats container? I think not. You do not want to be 14 years old unless your parents decide to give you a Sigma FP/45mm monochrome for your birthday.

My current go-to camera is a first generation Olympus EM5 from 2012 and I don’t think neither that or your NEX-6 are old, that can only mean that I’m getting old.
Let’s just hope 40 is the new 20.

The Leica formal place [focal plane? —Ed.] shutter is a wonderful combination of simplicity and cleverness. Constant acceleration of the curtains with a slot width that narrows as they speed up at the end of the exposure. It was well protected by German patents, so the Zeiss-Ikon Contax shutter was crazy complicated to work around them. Zeiss also had to work around Leica's rangefinder coupling patent, thus the crazy lens mount, with rotational coupling, rather than the elegant cam/roller.
Zeiss was also guilty of over-engineering.

Speaking of lenses being too sharp and lacking character (kinda) reminds me of choosing monitor loudspeakers at my TV station in the 1980s. We auditioned ARs, Tannoys, Monitor Audio and JBLs as I remember.

All sounded good, and the chief engineer liked the Tannoys, but I pushed hard for the JBLs, 4315s. These were like a modern lens, utterly transparent and revealing, sharp, clinical. If there was a fault in our audio, these would show it. Just what we wanted. I prevailed in the end and we bought four pairs at around $1,800 each, I think. Oh so cheap in hindsight.

I liked them so much that I borrowed a pair to take home for a trial against my B&W Model 70s (electrostatic + 12" bass in BIG cabinet). At 43kg each, getting them up to my 3rd floor apartment was a struggle. That's what friends are for, eh?

In the end, I chose to end the trial as they were too cold and clinical in my home environment. This was in the time of LPs, before CDs. My B&Ws were revealing too, but had a bit of the character you look for in a fine lens.

I'll never forget those 4315s though. The transient response! The sound of metal on metal, like swords clashing, is fixed in my memory. I could buy a pair now, they are available, but too big and heavy for me now. Sigh.

Sadly, this doesn't seem to apply to my first digital, the twisty body Coolpix 950, lovingly shoved into the back of my camera cupboard. Completed sales on ebay from £4.79.

[Really! That's a surprise. That was a very fun little camera. --Mike]

"Quote" v. "quotation": unlike, say, "practise" and "practice", the distinction is not quite that definitive (as I'm sure you realise). It's more in the territory of "invite" and "invitation", "quote" as a noun being simply a shortened version of "quotation", cf. "bike" and "bicycle", "photo" and "photograph", or even "Mike" and "Michael"...

That said, the verb "to Mike" could be an interesting coinage, and one in which I have a personal stake. "To distinguish to an unnecessary degree of sophistication; to bloviate; to rejoice in fine distinctions"...

Keep on Miking! And Happy New Year!


Speaking of cinematographers, I was wondering if you could do a post expanding on how cinematographers are driving up the prices of certain lenses. For example, the Zuiko 21mm/2.0 seems to list for at least $3000 now on eBay, not to mention certain Canon FD SSC lenses like the 24mm/1.4. Part of the demand appears to be created by Youtube cinematography channels that highlight how certain old lenses look/perform. I understand the demand is driven by cine houses who convert the lenses for motion use and can recoup the cost in renting out the lens, but would love to know more.

Waiting for the amazing Sony DSC-707 to make a come back!
I have a Minolta Dimage XT with a whopping 3MP and a postage stamp size screen, but with a clever internal zoom where the lens is vertical and there's a prism at the top to capture the light coming in at orient it down the lens. Made for a super pocketable camera, small even by today's standards.
That was a fun period of experimentation with configurations, it's kind of a shame that cameras today aren't that much different from film cameras in terms of body design.

Regarding dictionaries and language evolution, my mom is 97+ and I don’t tell her that words she still often ‘corrects’ when she hears others speak are now considered acceptable. If these changes weren’t inevitable, I guess we’d still be using 16th century guidelines; just harder to accept change in the relatively short term. People ultimately dictate; not dictionaries. But even though you are a stickler, you do tend to make up your own rules from time to time, like refusing to use possessives before gerunds, which grates for me when not done. We each have our hot buttons.

[Interesting. I'll have to watch that. --Mike]

I'm certainly not a Genz, even only one of my boys barely qualifies as one.

But I understand the attraction. The digicams of the early 2000s provide a feeling similar to film- slow output, a bit of grain, a feeling like you have to work for each photo. Let me give you a real life example. Last spring I purchased a circa 2002 Contax TVS Digital, a 5 MP PS with a slow zoom and an optical viewfinder in a titanium body, with a max 400ISO. I had to track down a 1 gig SD card to use it, the camera could not handle any more. I got one off Amazon for a few bucks. The battery wouldn't charge, but I found a pair of Kastar brand aftermarket batteries that would. After that, I carried it with me here and there and found myself quite charmed by the process and enjoyed the result. Here is an example, https://www.instagram.com/p/CeE0idSpqXd/ , that appealed to me.

Of course, the Contax was already over $300, but I expect that any old Optio or Coolpix would give you the same general feel.

FWIW, I am with the too clinical lens opinion. That's why I like my Pentax Limiteds, but that's another story.

Regarding unexpected sun damage, when my motorcycle was still fairly new, I bought an aftermarket windshield. One nice morning my wife and I rode to an art market. When we returned to the motorcycle, I realized the sun had started to burn a hole in my digital instrument cluster, with the windshield acting as a magnifier. It's ugly, but it still works. Now I cover it with something, usually my gloves, when I leave it in the sun.

Mike, the Olympus 40/2 is a great story, and yes after you wrote about the last time you were baffled by the insane prices, I pulled mine out of the drawer and said what the heck, and put it on eBay. I got many offers to sell it for up to about $2200, but I said to myself I'll only sell it for $2500, or some other stupid and arbitrary number. The closes I came was a buyer who was a collector who fancied my lens for its serial number.

I really liked that lens and didn't part with it, so financially I probably lost out on a few hundred dollars. In reality, this caused me to pull out my old mint OM4Ti, attach the very rare finger grip I've been hoarding for years, put in the even more rare extra bright OEM screen, and send camera and lens to John Hermanson for a fixup. He adjusted the lens barrel, replaced the foam, cleaned up the mirror box and sent me back the ultimate manual street and candid photography camera looking and feeling like new. I think I emailed you a photo of it. Some things are better not being monatized!

For David Raboin:

We were able to find replacement batteries for a circa 2004 Pentax digicam when my daughter expressed interest. Look around and you should be able to find something.

I liked my nikon coolpix 700 just fine.

Most of my chances to shoot pics are on dog outings. At a recent one, just at a local school playground, a group of gen Z-ers were filming themselves and their dogs with an early-90s videocam. I felt a little sheepish as a gen X-er carrying my EM1x which kinda looks like a 2010s-era professional canon. Sheepish because I was against that gear-head kind of camera in my late 20s, instead wanted 60s era rangefinders and/or 70s era compact SLR handholding to be what digital offered (hello, Fuji and Olympus Pen). But their crew seemed to nod in solidarity and approval of my middle-aged man photo gear, sort of as if I was sporting a fanny pack or some other, um, style. “Way to nerd out, old man!” they seemed to be saying, as we each pointed lenses at our dogs, happily.

[Monty Python voice: My brain hurts! --Mike]

"It will have to come out." - Cole Porter (the other one)


Wow - a mention of Dave Edmunds and old digi-cams in the same post! - I’m impressed. Edmunds was one a whole raft of highly talented & proficient musicians in the UK in the 70s and 80s who never quite had the sustained success their skills deserved. There was a whole thing in the early 70s here called Pub Rock, of which the leading exponents were probably Ian Dury & the Blockheads, and Doctor Feelgood, but Dave Edmunds was a part of it. All blown away a few years later, first by punk and then by the New Romantics.

I don’t seem to have kept any of my early digicams - at one point I had a Canon Powershot A60 (or A70), and I liked it, but as soon as reasonably-priced DSLRs appeared that was where I headed. I do however have an EOS 600 (not 600D) - they were called EOS 630 in North America, I believe - languishing in my cupboard. Does that qualify me for anything? I haven’t used it for years….

Mike, regarding possessive case before a gerund, we’ve had this discussion. I’ve pointed out examples before, but you have responded that it’s intentional, noting that you know the rule, but don’t think it fits your writing style for the site. Too pretentious, I think you might have written. Anyway, I appreciate your thinking about it (see what I did there?).

Wait till they find out about the Pentax Limited's 🙂

Mike, apologies for multiple comments, but it’s possible my memory is lacking. Rather than the grammatical issue of using possessive before a gerund, you and I might have instead previously discussed using the subject of an elliptical clause, my other pet peeve since 10th grade English class. Instead of writing “you are a better writer than me,” the correct statement is “you are a better writer than I” (where “I” is the subject of the elliptical clause “better writer than I am..). In any case, one of these two “rules” you found not suited to your style.

[That much more likely the one we discussed, although I don't remember it. My writing has gotten more formal over the years because of the logic of grammar, and I can see the logic of using possessives with gerunds...it's necessary for good sense in many cases; getting it wrong changes the meaning. Whereas with an elliptical clause, there's no mistaking the meaning either way and one is more in danger of sounding snooty than the other; so I might choose one or the other as a matter of tone.

I don't actually know anything about grammar. I've never studied it. I've just learned it by ear and from reading, and as a consequence of curiosity.

By the bye, did I thank you for your kind donation to TOP this year? I'm confused as to whether I did. In any event, you're very kind, and, grateful thanks for your support. --Mike]

The first "serious" digital camera I used was the Sony DSC-R1 from 2005. It had a wonderful Zeiss zoom lens.


I still like the files from that 10 pixel camera better than ones from more recent cameras. When I retired, it remained at the office and I am sure they surplussed it without a thought.

If old digicams are the newest thing for the young people, I'm afraid I don't have one to sell.

A friend from high school days was going to get rid of his Canon film camera about 10 years ago. The camera store wasn't going to give him much, but that's all I knew about it.

Five years ago, we were trading e-mails and I asked if he had gotten rid of the camera. He confirmed he still had it and I told him to look at the prices on ebay because film cameras were now a big thing with the younger generation.

He was shocked that he could get a decent price, rather than the "substantially less than $100" that the camera store had offered him. I assume he sold the camera and lenses.

I hope someone is able to donate an old digital P&S for David's daughter.

Thanks for the interesting post!

I had the backup battery of my Konica Minolta A200 changed recently. You cannot DIY, so it cost a bit of money. Still, I wanted the camera to be in perfect working state. It still is good, albeit slow in RAW mode. It is difficult to imitate the look of the photos it produces with today's cameras.

Just last year I gave away working Canon G3 and Sony H7 digicams. I still have an Olympus XZ-1 and a Fuji f40fd because I could not find a f31fd at the time. I'm not willing to part with them though, occasionally use them still.

There is one large lab here in Ottawa, GPC Labworks, that does their own film processing. I dropped off a roll of XP2 there the other day, first film I've shot in 20 years, wanted to see if the camera still worked. The largish bin where they keep envelopes of prints for customer pick-up was full, I was third in line at the counter. I counted at least 4 people working there, apart from the owner. The place down the road where I bought the film last month was packed with film for sale in 35 and 120 sizes, long line-up at the counter. I don't know if local art college students are the main film buyers but everyone in the store seemed awfully young to me.

For yucks I priced XP2 on Amazon Canada and their price was much higher than what bricks and mortar stores charge here. Which makes no sense, but a lot of things don't make sense in the new economy.

Btw, I wanted to buy a couple of rolls of XP2 for a friend who also wants to test his old cameras and the three stores I tried were out of stock.

Curious happenings, but there's no way I'm going back to vinyl, that's a step too far. I have to wear out my CDs first.

Shooting pictures with a real camera is like giving yourself a mini-vacation: you're not being pinged and dinged with advertisements, oversharing friends and Breaking News!
Of course, you have to silence your cell phone to achieve this - or leave it at home.

Yeah, I remember being very aware of the fact that on a rangefinder camera with focal-plane shutter I could burn a hole in the shutter curtain quite easily with sun light. Managed to never do it, due to being aware of it. (I'd had an SLR for several years before I got the M3.)

I'm sure it wasn't precisely trivial to replace the shutter curtain, but I'm also sure that it was fairly routine for Leica repair people. Those things weren't hugely messy and finicky inside.

A weirder, perhaps nastier, question of abbreviating a noun and then verbing it—er, I mean making it a verb—comes with "microphone".

It frequently gets abbreviated in the normal way to "mike", much shorter; but the spelling changes (not always, but mostly these days; I used to see "mic" sometimes).

Then, when it's a verb and we're talking about "stereo miking technique" or "how to mike drums" or whatever, that's only done with the abbreviated form (nobody says "microphone the drums").

And by then the spelling is looking quite bizarre to me. I have to look around to make sure that's the common usage.

"Those old 'fifties M3's were plentiful and cheap, and of course they still worked. What better for impecunious young photographers with artistic aspirations who couldn't afford the latest Nikon F?"

I worked in a camera store during the 1970s. We did a steady trade in Leicas, but they all sold to collectors (and mostly to just the one man). I don't think we ever sold one to an actual photographer.

The really hot thing in art photography circles at the time was the Diana camera. We were the closest dealer to the university art school, doing a steady trade with faculty and students. We were also just around the corner from the only photo gallery in town, which quite often showed Diana prints. But sell the cameras? We couldn't even give them away.

Bottom line is that fads are, and always have been, way, way overhyped.

I don't know about the lack of image quality from mid-oughts digital cameras.

In 2006 my daughter got married. At the time, I was experimenting with compact digital cameras. My kit was a Canon PowerShot S80 and an Olympus SP500UZ. The Canon has an 8MP sensor, and the Olympus a 6MP sensor. We hired professional photographers to record the event, and they were shooting with a Canon 5D, Canon 20D and a Nikon D200.

The image of the bride with her bridesmaids which made the (expensively) printed album was my shot, taken with the Canon S80. It was recorded in JPEG and shot in bright shade at 1/250 f/4.0 (probably wide open). ISO was not recorded. It is crystal clear, sharp and beautifully colored. At 100% on my iMac 27", I can see a bit of noise, but not much, so it was probably at base ISO.

By comparison, I can see a bit of improvement in noise from the Canons. I can't tell about the Nikons, as the only images I have are collages which were heavily post processed. But they certainly don't standout from my little compacts.

The SP500UZ also performed well. Recording only JPEGs, at ISO 80 the images are noise-free, sharp and have great coloring. The noise seems a bit better than the S80s, but it's hard to tell at this point.

So if Zoomers are buying these cameras to get crappy images out of, they're barking up the wrong tree. You can get crappy images out of any camera, including an iPhone 14 and Nikon Z9.

Yes, Mike, you expressed your gratitude as part of another comment I made not too long ago. Happy to contribute, even if not as a Patreon member.

You write:

"...on my Sigma fp-M comes with a cap for the eyepiece printed with a bold warning to never let the sun shine through the eyepiece on to the sensor. So it's obvious that's a potential problem."

The sensor is not in this light-pass, but the LCD screen is.

[Oh yes, of course. Sorry for the error. Fixed now. --Mike]

Read that article and got a good chuckle.
First it was vinyl, now digicams.

Guys, sometimes we go off into bla-bla-bla: gotta read things like this NYT article more critically. I like Thom Hogan's take on this in his article, "The New York Times Prints Junk Articles, Too":

Ok my prediction for the next overlooked treasure: the original Nikon 1 V1. Fabulous images reminiscent of Kodachrome, and the lenses are not half bad either, especially the 1 Nikkor 32mm f/1.2 (which sadly I never owned). The 18.5mm f/1.8 is a bargain.

I am inclined to agree with Scott about achieving "crappy images" or vintage photographs via an old digital camera. In the hands of any talented photographer (I am excluded on that list), he our she can make great or timeless captures with any photographic tool. Technology has certainly made it easier out of the box and you can now essentially shoot in the dark. Sentiment aside, a timeless photograph will always be special and most of us would likely have no idea what camera was used.

I actually just chucked a bunch of old digicams last summer because none of them would fire up (lifeless batteries that wouldn't charge) or the ones that took AA's had other operating issues.

Now film point & shoots... the one I still have works like a charm and new batteries are still available.

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