Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Instant gratification – Fuji Instax Mini 7s!

Inspired by the relaunch of the Polaroid film, but put off by the exorbitant pricing, I got inspired instead to purchase a Fuji Instax!

The Fuji Instax has been around for a while now, and the movement has been picking up steam since the demise of Polaroid. Maybe the market for instant film is too small for two players, or the end of Polaroid made people treasure the last player in the market more. Anyway, I always felt that the Fuji cameras gave much sharper and more vibrant prints.

About the size of a pair of small binoculars...

So on to my latest purchase – the Fuji Instax Mini 7s. There are other models available in the Instax range, but the most popular model is the definitely the Mini 7s. The camera is the most compact in the range (the others are just too large!) and the film is the most affordable and fits nicely in your wallet.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Polaroids are back again!


Remember the good old days of instant Polaroid photos? I sure do, because I have a Polaroid Spectra 2 in my camera collection gathering dust, because Polaroid decided to discontinue instant film in 2008.

The world’s entire inventory of 300 million working Polaroid cameras seem destined for the landfill, until a Netherlands-based group, The Impossible Project, decided to take on the improbable task of restarting the manufacture instant film again. The idea seems laughable, until the group held a press conference on 25th March 2010 and announced to the astonished journalists that the first packs of instant film will start shipping that every day!

For now, the instant films will be compatible with Polaroid’s SX-70 cameras and the 600-series cameras, and they are either monochrome or sephia (colour versions are on their way!). According to Dr. Florian Kaps of the Impossible Project group, the new films have totally different technology from the Polaroid predecessors, having invested US$3.1 million to develop the new emulsion.

The new instant film retails for US$21 and contains 8 exposures per pack. They will be available for sale online at the Impossible Project website, at select retailers in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and also at The Impossible Project store in Berlin.

Oh… in the meantime while you’re waiting for the films, you can convert your digital images to look like Polaroid films with this funky software from Poladroid (not related to Polaroid or the Impossible Project). Try it… it’s free and fun!

The passing of two renowned photographers

In this week alone, the world has lost two brilliant photographers who created iconic works in their respective field. Rock-and-roll photographer Jim Marshall, 74, gave us incredible images of music legends such as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong. The legendary rock-and-roll photographer was noted for his candid shots of music celebrities, including a controversial backstage shot of Janis Joplin in 1968.

Jim Marshall was collaborating with photographer Timothy White on a new book “Match Prints” just before his death. He passed away in his sleep on March 24 2010 at a hotel in New York.

Peter Gowland photographing Raquel Welch in 1964

Peter Gowland was renowned for his glamour photographer for pin-up calendars in the 30s to 50s. His photography skills were in high demand with the Ridge Tool Company, who engaged his services to shoot for the company’s calendar that hung proudly in almost every auto body shops during that era. Peter Gowland was an equally talented engineer and machinist, producing incredibly lightweight and sturdy large format cameras to be used in the field. The approachable and knowledgeable photographer was popular amongst photography enthusiasts who wanted to fabricate their own custom large format cameras. 93-year old Peter Gowland left behind his legacy of 40-years of glamour photography, and exceptional hand-built cameras (click here to learn more) when he passed away on March 17 2010.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On Twitter... finally...


Ah... yes... Twitter...

Follow "nelsontheone" on Twitter if you're interested. I apologize for the obnoxious nick... it wasn't easy finding a user name when you enter the game so late.  :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Extreme dedication to wildlife photography

Think you're dedicated to capturing the best photos possible? Think again!

Wildlife photographer Greg du Toit wanted so badly to capture the perfect photo of wild lions drinking from a watering hole, that he submerged himself into the water to get into the right position. Nothing amazing about that you say, until you discover that Greg did that for three entire months before he nailed the amazing images of the pride wild lions lapping up to quench their thirst, eyeballing the strange dude in their drinking water!

Image copyright of Greg du Toit

In his effort to capture the images from a unique vantage point, the 32-year old photographer spent 270 hours in the murky water. As a result, he contracted a host of deadly tropical diseases including malaria, Bilharzia as well as a variety of parasites living off his body.

Read more about Greg du Toit's amazing images here, or view the video interview here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pentax - Terminator, or terminated?


Just like the Terminator movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger always returns with “I’ll be back”. So just when almost everyone has written off Pentax, they’re back with (gasp!) a medium format digital camera!

I suspect many readers are not familiar with Pentax’s history, so here’s a short jaunt down memory lane. Pentax was a big brand in the past, and it had glorious cameras including iconic medium-format ones such as the Pentax 645 and Pentax 67. Pentax then has a history of doing things differently, because while most brands designed their cameras to have interchangeable film backs, Pentax alone decided that users should not be allowed to change films.

As made evident by history, this decision did not resonate well with photographers. So I’m befuddled when Pentax decided to wade into the medium format digital camera market – which is highly saturated, extremely competitive and limited in size. What aghast me even more – is the decision to incorporate a non-interchangeable digital back! There are a few arguments against such an arrangement – you can’t clean the sensor easily unlike interchangeable digital backs. The Pentax 645D has ultrasonic dust cleaning function, but we all know some spots cannot be removed that easily. Secondly, you cannot upgrade the sensor without throwing away the entire camera. Or if the camera jams on you during a shoot, you cannot change the back onto another working camera body. And finally, you cannot use the expensive digital sensor on another camera (such as another brand or even on a large format camera), which most of the other interchangeable digital backs allow you to do so.

So why on earth did Pentax come to this decision to design a non-interchangeable back? I suspect pride and ego contributes greatly to this folly, although I think they rather call it heritage and consistency.  Pentax also claims that the P645D is extremely durable and dependable with this body construction, as well as offering superior weather sealing. Nice, but I’d rather have the flexibility of having interchangeable backs. I guess they’ll be selling a lot of the P645Ds to National Geographic then.

The Pentax 645D features a 40MP medium format digital sensor, and it also accepts the legacy Pentax P645 lenses (might as well… I suspect existing P645 users are the only ones who will buy this camera… and they number in the hundreds). I usually like to root for the underdog, but this is one puppy that’s not a top dog for sure.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mamiya launches fastest medium format DSLR


Mamiya has just launched the Mamiya DM40 – basically the world’s fastest large-sensor digital medium-format camera. With a resolution of 40MP and 0.8 seconds per frame (up to 60 frames per minute!), the Mamiya DM40 is perfect for fast medium format digital shooters. For photographers more accustomed to 35mm DSLRs, 40 megapixel seems astounding and 0.8 second per frames sound incredible slow. But coming from the world of medium format cameras, this is blazing fast.

So if you’re a fashion photographer, the Mamiya DM40 is the perfect camera for you then. Make sure you equip your photo studio with the excellent Profoto 8A to ensure that your studio flash can keep up with your camera!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Singapore's richest photo contest!


The photography scene in Singapore has just gotten a lot more interesting, with a new photo competition promising S$30,000 in cash prizes. The Icon de Martell Cordon Bleu photo contest, as its name suggests, is sponsored by Martell - the French purveyor of fine cognac.

Martell said the contest's objective is 'recognising the most outstanding photographer in Singapore who has shown originality of vision presented through thought-provoking ideas, explored new concepts and demonstrated a commitment to their art through the use of the photographic medium'.

With its lucrative prizes, you'd think that the judges will be overwhelmed by entries. There's a catch though - participants must also have participated in exhibitions, with at least one solo exhibition in Singapore. And they must be Singaporean citizens or permanent residents with at least five years of photographic practice.

I'm not sure about you, but I'm definitely disappointed in that participants are required to have at least one solo exhibition in Singapore. In this land-scarce country, photo exhibitions are a rarity, especially so for solo exhibitions. While the aim of such a requirement is noble (in streamlining the quality of entries), it also excludes out a huge portion of talented photographers who never had the chance or resources to host an exhibition, not to mention a solo photo exhibition.

Nonetheless, with my mediocre photographic skills and talent, I shall watch from the sidelines on the development of the richest photo contest. Meanwhile, I will frame some photos on my bedroom wall to organize my very own solo photo exhibition in time for the 2011 Icon de Martell Cordon Bleu. And all you readers are welcome to come over to my bedroom for the opening...

Read the full story here.