Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category
Serious Android photographers need a serious camera app that offers advanced functionality and is not overloaded with useless features. They need something like Focal. This open source app is still at an early stage of development, but it already shows a lot of promise, and it has the potential to become a viable alternative for Android photography enthusiasts.
Focal features a streamlined interface which makes it easy to take photos and operate the app. To change the focus point, tap on the desired area on the screen, then tap the Shutter button to take a photo. To switch between the supported shooting mode, tap and hold the Shutter button, then swipe up to activate the semi-circle with the available shooting modes. Slide the finger to the desired mode to enable it. Besides Panorama and Video, Focal supports the so-called PicSphere mode which is an open source implementation of Google’s popular Photo Sphere feature that allows you to snap multiple photos in every direction and then automatically stitch them into a single panorama image.
Focal allows you to quickly preview taken photos by swiping down from the top of the screen. This displays a thumbnail gallery which you can browse by swiping forward and backward. The gallery features two buttons that can be used to open the currently viewed photo in an external photo viewer or photo editing app.
To access Focal’s options, swipe from left to right starting at the edge of the screen to evoke the main toolbar. Each button on the toolbar opens a palette containing the available options. Most buttons here — such as White Balance, Exposure Compensation, ISO, and Flash — should be familiar to most photographers. Using the appropriate buttons, you can select between different scene modes and effects. The HDR button lets you enable the HDR feature which automatically takes three bracketed photos. Focal supports several burst modes, and you can use the Burst button to enable the burst mode you want. Each palette can be pinned to the screen, making it easier to quickly access often-used options. Better still, all settings adjustments are persistent, so you don’t have to enable and configure the options every time you start the app.
Since Focal is still labeled as beta, some features are still missing. For example, the app doesn’t support different focus modes (manual, macro, etc.) and there is no way to change the default storage location. Moreover, some features can behave erratically. The PicSphere, in particular, can be rather temperamental at times.
While you can use a regular notebook to keep track of exposure info (shutter speed, aperture, focal length, etc.), it’s hardly an ideal solution. But if you happen to use an Android device, you can replace the notebook with the Exif4Film app from Code United to simplify the task of recording exposure info and applying it to scanned photos.
The app is available free of charge from the Google Play Store. During the first run, the app prompts you to import the film database containing pretty much every film in existence. Next, you need to add your photographic equipment (cameras, lenses, and filters) to the app. To do this, tap the Menu button and choose Gear. Tap the Add gear button, pick the desired item, and fill out the required fields. When adding a camera, you can specify which lenses in the database can be used with it. This works for lenses, too: when adding a lens, you can select the cameras that can be used with it. When you are done, press Save to add the equipment item to the database. Once you’ve added your gear, return to the main section, tap the Add roll button, and provide the required info. Press Save to add the roll, and you are good to go.
Recording exposure info with Exif4Film couldn’t be easier. As soon as you take a shot, open Exif4Film, select the roll, tap Add to add a new exposure, and enter its values. In addition to the standard values like aperture, shutter speed, focal length, exposure compensation, etc., the app automatically records the geographical coordinates (useful for geotagging photos). Exif4Film also lets you take a photo and attach it to the current exposure. When you add the next exposure, the app automatically populates the fields with values from the previous entry. This can be a real time-saver when you take several photos with the same camera settings.
Exif4Film features other creature comforts, too. The View on map button displays the roll on a map complete with markers for each exposure. When you finish the film roll and record the time when it has been unloaded in Exif4Film, the app conveniently changes the roll’s icon, so you can easily identify the active and processed rolls in the list.
As you keep adding rolls to the database, managing them may become increasingly difficult. This is where the app’s filtering functionality can come in rather handy. Using it, you can display only the rolls that match specific criteria, such as camera model, film, and loaded/unloaded dates.
Exif4Film also has a companion desktop utility which can help you to import the recorded exposure into the scanned photos. To do this, you need to export data from a specific roll first. Tap the Export button in the Exif4Film app, select the desired roll, and tap Export. You can then export the data to a file on the device or Dropbox. Transfer the exported .xml file to your machine, launch the Exif4Film desktop utility and use it to write exposure info to the scanned photos. The utility is simplicity itself, so you shouldn’t have problems figuring out how to use it.
To keep track of film development labs and stores that carry film in cities around the world, I’ve set up a no-frills wiki. While this is a strictly personal project, I thought I’d make it public in the hope that other film photographers might find it useful and will be willing to contribute. Interested? Then visit the ShootFilmIn wiki.
There is not much info in the wiki at the moment, but I plan to add more content to it. I hope you’ll do the same.
Look, there is a new film camera in my photo bag! I was leisurely browsing a local auction website the other day when I stumbled upon this Nikon L35AF unit. I didn’t actually need a new film camera, but at a measly $25 (that’s the price of a cup of coffee and a sandwich here in Denmark), how could I not buy it? I’m really glad that I succumbed to the temptation, as the camera turned out to be in excellent condition with virtually no signs of use. The package also included the original strap, the equally original lens cap, and a swanky (by 80s standards, at least) CS-L35 leatherette carrying case.
The model I’ve got is an earlier version of the camera with ISO limited to 400. But it can squeeze 38 exposures from a regular 36-exposure film roll. If my math is right, this basically gives me a free roll of film for every 18 rolls I buy. I can’t really add much to what has already been written about Nikon L35AF elsewhere, so I limit myself to features I personally like and dislike. Despite its plastic exterior which gives the camera a slightly junky look, Nikon L35AF is solidly built and its boxy shape makes it easy to handle. Better still, the rubberized grip gives you a firm hold on the camera. The lens is Nikon L35AF’s pièce de résistance, and it’s every bit as sharp as everybody says. The camera uses regular AA batteries which are readily available pretty much everywhere. Other highlights include fast focus, reliable exposure metering, manual ISO selection, and an exposure compensation lever for photographing backlit subjects. I also appreciate the lens cap with an integrated blinder that covers the viewfinder. This ensures that you don’t take pictures with the lens cap on. As for dislikes, there is only one fly in the ointment: the flash which pops up automatically in low light situations. Although it’s possible to prevent the flash from popping up by holding it with a finger (and still get properly exposed photos), this is not the most elegant approach. As soon as the camera arrived, I loaded a roll of Kodak Professional CN400BW into it and went shooting. Here are a couple of photos for your viewing pleasure.
All in all, Nikon L35AF lives up to its reputation, and I have a feeling that it might become my go-to compact film camera.
If you happen to use digiKam for managing photos scanned from negatives, you’ll appreciate the application’s capabilities to add and edit EXIF metadata. Using digiKam’s dedicated interface for managing metadata, you can add key EXIF values, such as maker, device model, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focal length, etc., to the scanned photos (provided you have these data handy).
However, digiKam doesn’t allow you to apply the same EXIF data to multiple photos in a single operation. Adding the same maker, device, ISO, and focal length to a set of photos one-by-one can be a bit of a nuisance, but you can use a simple trick to work around this limitation. Start with adding EXIF values to a single photo. Select then the rest of the photos, choose Image → Metadata → Import EXIF, pick the processed photo, and press OK. This will apply EXIF data from the processed photo to the selected images.
Mimosa is the name of the last remaining film lab in our city. Compared to the rest of the photo stores in Aarhus which peddle pretty much the same assortment of mainstream photography stuff, Mimosa is decidedly different. For starters, the store carries a relatively large selection of reasonably priced films, including popular films from Kodak and ILFORD.
Mimosa offers C41 processing only, but the lab accepts regular black-and-white films for processing in Germany. Of course, Mimosa also carries chromogenic films like ILFORD XP2 SUPER 400 and Kodak Professional CN400BW, which can be processed using C41 chemicals. The store offers same-day film development (usually within an hour or so, depending on how busy they are) which is only slightly more expensive than next-day processing. Mimosa’s staffers are friendly and know a thing or two about photography. They are always ready to help and have a chat about all things photography.
So if you happen to be in Aarhus, and you run out of film (or anything else photography-related), you might want to stop by Mimosa. Who knows, you might even bump into me.
By the way, Mimosa has a long and fascinating story (in Danish), and it has been in business in one form or another for over 100 years.
It’s not every day I see a film camera in Aarhus. Come to think of it, I’ve actually never seen a film camera-toting photographer here in the city. Until today, that is. I was passing by a café, when I spotted two girls sitting outside with an Olympus Trip 35 on their table.
I asked permission to take a couple of snaps, and had a short chat with the owner. It’s always nice to meet fellow film shooters.
Taken with Samsung Galaxy S III and processed with Snapseed for Android.
Film photography can be a great learning experience, but the lack of EXIF data makes mastering the basics more tricky. After all, knowing what aperture and shutter speed values were used in a specific situation can come in rather handy. To solve this problem, I devised a solution which involves a notebook, an Android device, and digiKam.
Whenever I take a picture with my film SLR camera, I write down aperture, shutter speed, focal length and other useful info (exposure compensation, light source, lens used, etc.) in a notebook. To make data entry more efficient, I use icons for often-used lenses and common lighting conditions, and I have a cheatsheet in the notebook which looks like this:
While any notebook or even a loose piece of paper would do, I prefer spiral-bound notebooks from KOKUYO S&T for one important reason: I find the accompanying CamiApp app rather useful for quickly digitizing notes. Thanks to its size, the Ring Memo A7 version fits perfectly into a pocket, and the notebook is much tougher than it looks.
When the roll is finished and developed, I use digiKam to update the EXIF metadata of selected digitized photos. digiKam features a dedicated module which makes it easy to manipulate EXIF metadata. The process of adding EXIF data using digiKam is rather straightforward: choose Image → Metadata → Edit All Metadata, then enable and fill the relevant fields. Press OK when done.
Importing EXIF data by hand for each photo may seem like a daunting proposition, but I usually do this only for a few selected photos from each roll.
According to adaptall-2.org, this particular model was Tamron’s best selling lens throughout the early to mid 1980s due to its performance, price, and ergonomics. Because of its popularity, the lens is relatively cheap. I bought mine in mint condition (including the original box and a snazzy lens case) from a local auction website for a paltry sum of $35 as a replacement for my Tamron 70-150mm f/3.8 Adaptall lens.
There are two things I particularly like about this lens: the unique design and the lens’ distinct look. With its colorful markings, the lens completes my trusty Nikon F-501 from the same era. I had a chance to shoot a single film roll with the lens, and here are a couple of photos for your viewing pleasure. All the photos were taken with Nikon F-501 and Ilford XP2 Super 400.
This confused seagull chick climbed on top of the car and stood there, trying to figure out what to do next.
While the 103A model is technically not a macro lens, it’s capable of producing decent close-ups. This logo plate on a Triumph motorcycle was taken from approx. 1.5m distance at 210mm focal length.
One more example of the lens’ close-up capabilities. Lilium superbum from the Aarhus University botanical garden.
The sparrows in our garden are not having a good Monday. This morning, I witnessed a bird of prey snatching a sparrow right from the bird feeder. It was totally surreal: I mean, we live in an urban area, not some remote woodland. Later, I saw a stray cat trying to catch another sparrow. And now it’s raining cats and dogs. Poor buggers!
Taken with Canon 1100D and Tamron SP 300m f/5.6 Adaptall 2. Processed in digiKam.