Scanning results reality…Canoscan 9000F MK2 vs Regular Labs

canoscan 4800 dpi
canoscan 4800 dpi
regular lab scan
regular lab scan

After reading many reviews on how good the canoscan 9000F MK2 is, i got a used copy.
Unfortunately i have to state the obvious finding here, even with VueScan 9.4.41, no matter what settings i do, with or without the holder, the results are definitely inferior to a regular lab scan which is using lower DPI but dedicated film scanning optics.

Hence the scanner will now just be used to scan my existing negatives from days of old and not for my current projects and new albums.
So, if you are planning to do your own scanning, just forget these Canon’s inferior products, save your money and time and let the lab do it for you, they usually have a fast turn around time of 1-2 days max.

The film cost is high argument vs reality

image courtesy of www.huffman.tk
image courtesy of http://www.huffman.tk

Leica M3 was in production from 1954-1966. Thats a whopping 12 years of production. While this looks like a digressing point from the caption, its not, its in fact the heart of the point i am trying to make.

My thoughts here are solely as a hobbyist and those passionate about photography without client’s pressure. Perhaps you are a professional and have tight budget clients and rapid wedding bookings, that my friend, is where Digital photography shines.

If you are new to photography, i would also suggest that you stick with Digital photography first, until you are familiar with aperture, shutter speed and iso control, then film would be a great area to venture to.
Anyway, just read on for leisure sake, lets see some how some mad logic that passes thru my mind sounds like.

The cost of developing film cost me RM 12 (usd 4) for 36 images in a local shop. In some dedicated shops it might goes up to RM 18 (USD 6). Better service, better pay, acceptable notion in business.

Assuming : 1 Roll every week

Thats 52 rolls a year. And assuming the cost of “Scanning” those cost RM26 (USD 9) , in total we have spent : (26+12) * 52 = RM 1976 (USD 658) a year for development.

Lets assume i use Fuji Superia 200, RM 12 per roll (USD 4), 52 weeks, a year would be : RM 624 (USD 208).

Yearly cost : RM 1976 + 624 = RM 2600 (USD 866).
You would have shot : 1,872 images.

If you buy your own scanner, say, Canoscan 9000f : RM 1000 (usd 300), you could eliminate scanning, that brings down the yearly cost to :
RM 1248 (USD 416). . Imho the scanner’s 9600 dpi is good enough for almost anything except wall size and billboard prints and exceeds almost any regular labs in town.

If you plan to buy ANY flatbed scanner that is not dedicated, scrap it. Read here why

Today’s FullFrame Digital camera cost around RM 6000 (USD 2000) for the cheapest lot. Lets be honest with ourselves, how many digital cameras did we buy in the last 4 years? If you are not into photography, maybe nothing much, but if you are an avid shooter and constantly improving yourself and your gears, i would say 2 is a conservative figure.

In 4 years, Assuming that i use the Leica M6 film camera,
1. My cost would be USD 416 * 4 = USD 1664 and my 2 LR44 batteries will last around 8 years, so no changes there.
2. The Digital upgrade will cost you easily USD 4000 if you upgraded twice. This is not inclusive of your upgrade required in your computer to handle ur ever growing raw files and resolution, extra batteries, memory cards format and softwares.

At this point you might be wondering, what if i trade in my gears! surely my cost would be lower. Have you considered what your digital camera is worth after 2 years time? As manufacturers religiously churns out new version before any major exhibition, whats new today gets old very fast and it shows in the price drop. Options abounds even if your camera model happens to be the “hot items”.

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Now, check out the prices on M3, M6,M7 or say Nikon Titan F2 film camera. Don’t be surprised that the price remains holds very well and some like the Nikon Titan F2…actually is better than buying the best stocks.
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Leica M3 was produced from 1954-1966. 12 years.

Film does not offer higher quality or cleaner images. Digital is the new king. But, if you enjoy shooting and thinking more about your shots, taking your skills to the next level and get the hell out of editing photos 90% of the time, there is nothing like shooting film for a break.

Take the blue pill and forget whatever i wrote here, resume reading your gear reviews, zoom out of that pixel peeping mode and go back to the digital circle. Take the red pill, and your race ends here, just grab a few rolls of Kodak Porta 160.

** Maybe one day we might have a digital camera with no LCD back and a preconfigured limit setter of say 36,72,108 maximum shots and a 50mm 0.95 lens. Sounds silly and stupid but that is one camera i will surely buy.

Fixing the vertical alignment on M6

The M6, arguable world best 35mm film camera
The M6, arguably world best 35mm film camera

The M6 have a slight vertical alignment issue. What happens when you have a camera that you going to use seriously for some shoot and it has a minor issue? I tell you how it feels, it feels like an itch that can’t be scratched!
So after looking up some popular local photography figures in town, i was served the advice of sending it to Germany or Singapore. Ouch.

I watched almost all the videos i could find on M6, Vertical alignment. For example :
1.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbtqDd-4qPI
Mr.John Wayne here have noted how he fixed the same problem using a tool that he fashioned himself.
2.Fixing M4,6,7 Vertical Alignment

You know what? These videos are almost useless, for me at least. They failed to understand that a layman with just some technical background won’t be able to understand the most simple and the most important question of all. Why does such a tool would work? Some enterprising chinese guy obviously saw this opportunity and is selling a similar tool for USD 64, its probably worth just USD 10 at most, but since its a specialized tool, i can understand why some folks would pay for it.

There are two (2) post that eventually helped me.
1. Diy Tool
The keyword here that really helped is the word “fulcrum”. I will explain later why this is the defining word in understanding how to tweak the rangefinder.

2. Mingthein This guy is a genius (literally without sarcasm) and he replied my mail and by saying that he didn’t even use that tool. This hint and (1) gave me all the answers i needed.

Ok, read this carefully. First you open the logo by pushing the letters “L”, the horizontal tail of “L” and then push “a” from clockwise. It doesn’t really matter which direction u push but push just slightly with ur fingernails or something plastic that won’t scratch your M6 body. Basically your are “persuading” the logo to come out, its just a tough sticker, but dont “pry” it or u will destroy that sticker. After pushing and relaxing for sometime in various directions, it will just come off.

Refer to the (2nd) video in the top, you will see how it looks like, a craggy hole and how the special tool looks like. It doesn’t bother to explain why the tool works, just looks like magic.

I am not going to tell you how to create a tool or what to use and its not for the faint hearted. I am going to explain why the tool works and why you don’t need the tool. Do this at your own risk, or send to Germany. These are written for educational and knowledge sharing.

Untitled-2

Inside that red dot, you will see this horizontal “U” with a dot.
Basically u just needed to push either “up” (A) or “down” (B) using whatever tools. The official tool contains an insertion that will enter that hole and turning it does nothing except provide a “FULCRUM” to allow the metal to push (A) or (B). Thats it! I can’t believe how this was missed out in the videos and pretty much most of the posts i read. Looking at that tool you would think that the hole contains a screw or something, it doesn’t.

At the end, i did’t use any special tools or crafted anything special. I took ordinary stuffs that took me 5 minutes to create and pushed the right position.

Life without much editing….love those fuji tones

fuji pro 160, Mamiya 645E
fuji pro 160, Mamiya 645E

These images are taken using the 80mm f2.8 lens on the Mamiya medium format, scanned by a local lab here to produce a mere 13mp files.
However, i spend like 10-20 seconds each file just using lightroom tweaking them. With the exception of Athena’s image below which i brought out some details using PS. I notice PS algorithm are not really catered for film output, the “anti-shake” feature is a mix bag.
None of the tones needed to be changed, gosh, the time i saved is amazing and i love these tones from the fuji film.

fujipro 160, mamiya 645e
fujipro 160, mamiya 645e
fujipro 160, mamiya 645e
fujipro 160, mamiya 645E, Uncle and mum

Misleading the blind – Photographer’s guilt

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With the dawn of Digital photography, Photoshop workflow is nearly 40% of the workflow involved. I notice that even for myself, the boundaries of what is acceptable in post processing and what is not, have moved significantly.

The fact is, almost all model images taken by me and fellow photographer’s that i know have performed some level of editing on the models. While i tried to be as conservative as possible, the tidal waves of those that will do “what it takes” to secure the model’s approval by editing these ladies into aliens and mannequins, are drowning the remaining purists.

Along the way, these expectation of editing the model is taking up more and more of my time, one would spend like 2 hours shooting and 2x more time editing a set of album. It was killing me in some ways.

A list of things that some models insist or “demand” to edited are: (images in the points are from google images, courtesy of their respective owners)

1.Slimming
IMG_1145.JPG

While its true that some lens causes distortion to the image, for example, placing her on a wide angle and away from the middle and this warrants some editing to correct the distortion..most models really want to look way slimmer than what they are.
There are so many times i wanted to just say “if your fat, your fat” accept that and love urself. The world is not made up of perfectly covered skeletal supermodels.

2.V-shaped faces
IMG_1144.JPG
Is it just me or is everyone asking to be AngelaBaby?
The amount of images that some models/freelance post using the 30-45 degree angle from the top has reached spam status. AngelaBaby is a HK model/actress that got shot to stardom after a photoshoot and she could do a face-on-image-direct to the camera and yet have a V shape face, which some believed to be a result of plastic surgery.
But its not only annoying and boring to see freelance and models trying to have a V-shape face and demanded to be edited that way when in fact their faces are ROUND or cylinder shaped.
If i wanted to shoot such a face, i would look for one with such a face, if you don’t have such a face, pls, accept your round face and move on with life. There are plenty of cute/beautiful/pretty models that embraces their natural face and not trying to be a fake all the time.
Some of the pictures that new photographers took are actually pretty honest and direct in portraying the models locally here. They are fat, round faced and tanned skin, not super slim, V-shape and white. Unfortunately for these new and possibly talented photographers, they will be banned, ignored and even informed by the models/freelancers to remove their images.

What a bunch of fakes and my sympathy to the new comers.
Honestly, such models/freelancers should just avoid photoshoot and use their Casio TR and mei-tu apps to just shoot their own selfie picture using that 30-45 degree boring shot.

3. Height
IMG_1146.JPG

Height is something you just can’t cheat. Those models/freelancers born with a good height are some of the luckiest people around. But that does not means a shorter model can’t do a great photoshoot or be loaded with offers for commercials and shoots. In reality tall models advantages is in the fashion catwalk field, any other field its pretty much a fair playground and sometimes even a disadvantage. For example, if an talent/guy that happens to be shorter, he would prefer a shorter girl.
Who would want to be visiting a booth where u are constantly ‘looked down’ on ? Hence shorter models have tons of relevant places to succeed.
Its actually laughable how some had to cheat on their stats by adding a few cms to their height and furnishing with fake images.
Using “transform” on Photoshop or a wide angle shooting from lower angle, anyone could look tall, but sometimes, its just plain stupid to insist on having the whole album looking that tall, esp when the reality isn’t.

4. Bust
The notion that all guys are only interested in big bust is a myth. Nuff said.



Dolfie
IMG_1147.JPG
[image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tiamoteneresempre/%5D

Let me just put it this way. I love shooting models and portraits but, it has to be real. I don’t do nudes, i have no idea how nudes became art, but the “guy” who sold this idea back in the early days probably knew (haha).
If i wanted a slim and perfect model, i would shoot a doll, a premium Dolfie doll (google that up and pay the Volks site a visit).

Here is one of my earliest works with the Leica M9, without any editing on the model.

IMG_1143.JPG

While this was taken way before i learnt photoshop and moved into various other techniques and know-hows, this photo speaks to me, its real and the background was my secondary school.

Well, i have my fair share of editing some of my model/freelance friends images and its pretty refreshing to know while that works, it was fun, but progress means i have to move on to something that will be promoting more truth than fiction. A sabbatical leave from the fake imagery if i may put it bluntly.

Whats the point of looking back into my work, 100 years from now only to realize that my images don’t reflect the actual person, but rather someone who don’t exist.

My next few projects will be solely done using film. Hence the M6, that was offered to me by trading in 2 of my unused lens. Although its a titanium M6, i just going to use it and trash it like any other M6. Cameras are meant to produce images, so lets stick to that objective. (convincing myself haha)

Athena, Morocco’s Duchess [Portraiture B&W]

Neopan 100. 47mm f2.0. 1/500
Neopan 100. 47mm f2.0. 1/500

This is a pavilion built at the left of the Putrajaya Botanical Park, Malaysia. The Botanical Park as well as Putrajaya itself has been an extremely popular spot for photography. There is practically not much people around during weekends because Putrajaya is where the Federal Government offices are located, hence, weekend it turns to a ghost town.

I do find these images too grainy to get used to, I am not sure at this point if its caused by a kind of exposure issue with the 1946 Kodak RetinaII camera or just the way the Gang Gang Geng shop scans them. They do looked very very filmic….wait a minute, this is film. In “retrospect” i am often intrigued by the numerous articles online describing the weakness of a camera in low iso (read: leica M…, Nikon 1) as being filmic. Having used and own all these cameras i can tell you one thing :
– There is nothing filmic about digital low iso noise.

Well, don’t get me wrong though, i am not endorsing film as anything superior, thats just as delusional as the other view. These are mediums that produces different results and feel and thats it. Film based cameras are extremely fun to use…..after you have mastered your basic that is. Digital is where you learn and train. If you are a pro, i would say, go digital straight, use film for the less serious stuffs. There will always be some Film Jedi’s around that will use film for professional stuffs, those are just exceptions, not a recommendation. I wouldn’t ask anyone to cycle to work just because i could (i wish this was true). But, the limitations set by working with films are often the chains we needed to control ourself and grow to greater heights.

Enough with all these guru talks, enjoy the photos and drop me some comments.

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000007-Edit

000011-Edit

000012-Edit

I am leaving the last post for the surprise here. Actually i never planned to use B&W in this shoot, but my Mamiya 645E encountered a file loading issue which most probably is due to my first time mounting film on it and i only got 1 shot off it.

This is the one, my first Medium Format film photo.

Kodak Porta 160. Mamiya 645E. 80mm f2.8.
Kodak Porta 160. Mamiya 645E. 80mm f2.8.