As winter draws near and the leaves are fleeing their branches, I've been struck with the desire to shoot more black and white film. I figure as the landscape grows more stark and monotone, black and white film could be particularly well suited to the task. There's just something about a well composed scene on black and white film that can be particularly stirring, which leads me to our first reason to shoot black and white film.
Kodak Portra 800 - A High Speed Wonder
Portra 800 is a film I've been curious to shoot for a while. I typically shoot landscapes and the occasional cityscape, so I'd never thought much about shooting Portra 800 for such cases. I've had a roll sitting in the fridge for quite some time, waiting for a family event or something of that nature. A friend of mine recently invited me out for an evening shooting the Bikes, Blues, and BBQ event in Fayetteville, Arkansas. That's when I knew it was time to break the Portra out and give it a fair shake.
The Pentax K1
In the market for one heck of a landscape camera? How about a great studio camera? What about those of us with a tight budget? What if I told you there exists a camera that excels at landscapes, product photography, and portrait work for under $2,000 that's loaded with features and a full-frame sensor? Well, search no more dear readers, that camera is the Pentax K1.
Pentax remains a hold-out in the DSLR world and as such has become somewhat of a niche camera brand. The K1 and K1-II cameras are relatively unique in their design when compared to those made by the big three. The Pentax K1 combines the ruggedness and excellent ergonomics of a beefy DSLR with interesting and useful technology to provide an excellent still camera for a great value.
Pentax has somehow managed to stuff a 36mp full-frame sensor, in body image stabilization, GPS, a star tracking mode, pixel-shift technology and much more into their flagship camera, and all for under $2,000 at that. The image quality from the camera is stellar. It provides excellent high-ISO performance, great dynamic range, and all-day comfort despite its porky build.
So what else makes the K1 such a great camera? Check out my video below for more features and sample photos from the Pentax K1, as well as a few things I didn't like about the K1.
The Sigma Foveon Cameras
Since the year 2000, Sigma Corporation and Foveon have worked together to build very unique digital cameras. Foveon developed the sensors that Sigma used in their digital cameras. What made the Foveon sensors unique was that they employed a three-layer design. The sensors would be stacked such that each individual pixel location would receive all three primary colors. This sensor design would lead to increased sharpness, fewer image artifacts, and brilliant color rendition. In 2008, Sigma acquired Foveon and continued to use their sensor design in their cameras.
Over the years, Sigma has produced many different camera bodies using the Foveon sensor design. From small, compact cameras such as the DP0, DP1, DP2, and DP3 with APS-C sized sensors, to the bigger and more robust sd1 Merrill and sd Quattro series. The Quattro-H is the current flagship of the Foveon sensor wonders. It sports an APS-H sized sensor with a resolution that is equivalent to a standard Bayer sensor of 51mp.
When I shoot film, I always enjoy the process of trying different film stocks. It's awesome having your own "preset" built right into each different variety of film. When it comes to inexpensive "consumer grade" films, I have found a couple that I really tend to favor. Fuji's C200 ranks in my top 3 budget films for a number of reasons. Click "read more" below the photo to find out why!
The Pentax K70
The Pentax K70 is truly one of the best bargains in the camera world today. Not many cameras offer as many features jam-packed into them at such a great price. Available brand new for under $600 as of this writing, the Pentax K70 certainly delivers on value. It offers IBIS, a 24 megapixel sensor, great high ISO performance, excellent dynamic range, weather sealing, and comfortable ergonomics. This combination of features is rare in an APS-C camera, and even more rare for under $1,000. Click "read more" below the video for a summary on the Pentax K70!
Shooting Kodak Ektar 100
Kodak Ektar 100 has been my favorite color negative film for quite some time now. My first rolls of Ektar were shot through my Yashica Mat 124G. I had been looking for an inexpensive way to try out medium format while also keeping a modern look and feel to my images. The Yashica and Ektar combination proved to work out perfectly.
Ektar is a 100 ISO film that is touted to provide excellent saturation, contrast, sharpness, and fine grain. Kodak says that Ektar 100 was also made to be scanned easily. It sounds like a wonderful film for the modern age, especially for 35mm shooters looking for cleaner shots. However, I somehow had never shot Ektar in 35mm format, until now, due to my love of shooting it in 120 format. Keep reading to learn more!
My current 35mm bodies are a Minolta X-700 that my dad gifted me, and a Minolta 7000 that my grandpa gave me. I do love those cameras, especially with the attached sentimental value. However, the convenience of being able to shoot digital and 35mm film through the same great Pentax lenses was too much of a temptation to resist. Enter the Pentax SF1n.
Big Performance on a Small Budget
The Autochinon 50mm f/1.9 lens has been one of my favorite impulse buys ever. Early in my photography career, I went to a local pawn shop on a whim just to see if they had any vintage camera gear. Lo and behold, they happened to have a small case hidden away in a corner with a handful of old film lenses inside. I looked through them a bit, not knowing what lens mount they were, what the brand names meant, or if they were any good. At this point in time I had a basic mechanical knowledge of how lenses worked, and the Autochinon 50mm in the case seemed to fully function. $8.00 later, I had myself a new lens to play with!
The Bokeh Life Trend
Lately it seems like the buzz word of the internet for photographers and videographers is bokeh. If you're unfamiliar with the term, it's a Japanese term used to describe the out of focus areas of an image and its qualities. Bokeh has become a hot topic in nearly every camera related video and article on the web. Everyone is out to bokeh their lives, constantly chasing after that ultimate creamy goodness in the background of their photos. My question is: Do we really need it that badly?