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In the most recent episode of the Pdexposures Podcast we talked with Dave about a lot of things including film production, timelines and more. What we didn’t go over on-air was the fact that they would be doing this all via a Kickstarter project. That day has come and at the time of writing they have raised over $35,000 in less than 3 hours.

The “100 More Years of Analog Film” Kickstarter Project by Film Ferrania speaks to exactly what they are trying to accomplish – provide a sustainable resource for film photography far into the future. And the plan to do this is simple, by producing film in smaller batches costs can be kept down and they don’t run the risk of over-producing.

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As with all Kickstarter projects this does come at a cost. Ferrania needs to raise $250,000 in 28 days in order to purchase the machines required to produce the film in these smaller batches. If they are unable to do so the Italian Government cannot promise they won’t be destroyed (if this sounds like the plot to a cheesy thriller you’re right, but that doesn’t make it any less true).

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To start with Ferrania will be making four types of film including: 35mm, 120, Super 8 and 16mm. Though they are clear to state that these are in no way the only formats they will ever produce. Ferrania has the ability to produce 4×5, 8×10, 126, 127 and other formats if the desire is there. So even if you’re exclusively a large format shooter it would be best to back their campaign so they’ll be able to produce other formats moving forward.

Finally, as a disclaimer we would like to mention that the prices are sure to seem expensive for Chrome film. Ferrania has stated in no uncertain words that this will not be the final pricing. The initial run will be more expensive as machines are purchased and brought online but in time the cost will come down.

To show your support you can back their Kickstarter project here. Also be sure to listen to our interview with Dave Bias of Ferrania here!

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It is no secret that Ferrania has been the talk of the town lately – which is why we are very excited to announce that this Sunday (9/21/14) the Pdexposures Podcast will be interviewing Ferrania’s own Dave Bias!

But to make things even better, this won’t be your standard Q&A session with the Pdexposures hosts. No, rather than simply having the usual team asking the questions, we will be taking your questions for Dave Bias for the rest of the week on Twitter.

Simply tweet your questions about Ferrania to their Twitter handle @filmferrania and be sure to use the hashtag

#DaveAMA.

We’ll pull the questions and go over as many as humanly possible on air and you’ll be able to hear all the answers on episode 39 of the Pdexposures Podcast when it’s released on Wednesday 24th of September!

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Today is the first day of Photokina and the photographic announcements are already rolling down the pipeline with news coming from all realms. The Impossible Project today has announced their latest special edition known as Round Frame.

As the title describes instead of the standard square frame of the SX70 and 600 type films these only display their image in a circular format.

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While not many sample images were provided those that were available lead us to believe these are on their current BW formula and not what was seen in the Gen 2.0 BW film that was recently released. When asked if it would be a temporary or permanent addition to the lineup Impossible left no questions,

You can purchase Impossible BW Round Frame by clicking here for $24.49, $1 more than their standard film. Why the price increase? We’ve reached out to Impossible but have yet to hear a reply.

Other news is still coming down the pipeline at Photokina including new details about the Impossible Camera and we’ll be sure to cover all things film related!

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Fans have been begging Fuji to release an updated Instax Wide camera ever since the 500AF was discontinued – preferably one with more professional features to take advantage of the wonderful Instax Wide film. Unfortunately, the all-new Instax Wide 300 is not that camera.

There is good news however as the Instax Wide 300 offers an updated finish that is more in line with the recently released Instax 90, moving away from the bubbly look of the Instax 210. It retains most of the features of the 210 including the built in optical viewfinder, two focus zones for portrait and landscape use, a close up lens and built-in electronic flash.

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The most noticeable upgrades are in the aesthetics. This camera is a much more mature Instax Wide with a pronounced grip, two-tone look and textured ring around the lens, harkening back to the glory days of photography. Soon you’ll be able to get one for yourself for only $129.99.

Fuji also introduced two new colors in their Instax Mini 8 line, dubbed Rasperry and Grape:

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But wait – there’s more! To cap off today’s announcements from Fuji they added an all-new color option to the Instax Mini 90 in the form of a nice brown (faux) leather.

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While these may have not been the announcements serious Instax shooters have been hoping for, they do prove one thing: Fuji is still very much committed to their Instax line, and you can expect it to be around for a long time.

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Lomography today has announced a new LC-A that will be joining their range of products, the LC-A 120.

The camera is a much larger version of the original LC-A which turned 30 this year, and packs a wide 38mm (21mm on 35mm film equivalent) f/4.5 lens and shoots square format pictures.

LC-A 120 from Lomography on Vimeo.

The camera is programmed automatic with a 4 step zone focusing system, much like the original with a close focusing distance of 0.6m.

Everything about this camera appears to function like the original LC-A, including the  multiple exposures option and the long exposures with a rear curtain flash.

I am a fan of the original LC-A that Lomography produces and have always thought of it as a fun compact camera that I can keep in my bag. The pre-order price for the LC-A 120 is currently set at $429.

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What do you think of the original LC-A and will you be getting the new bigger LC-A when it comes out this christmas?

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We have made it to the fifth edition of the Red Light District. In much the same vein as our first featured Darkroom, Dave has turned an outdoor shed into a darkroom. He even sees some of the same issues Nate does – though whether he uses a bucket to move water around was unfortunately not addressed.

What started off as a 8 x 6 shed was transformed into a fully functional darkroom, complete with home-made workbenches. It doesn’t have a water supply (that’s what kitchens are for) and electricity is piped in by using a cable through a floor hatch (lightproofed of course – see image) which goes into the kitchen. When not in use the cable can be pushed through the hatch. I also made some inner doors for double light blocking power!

For more info see here: http://www.twelvesmallsquares.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/for-i-am-man.html and here: http://www.twelvesmallsquares.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/improving-shed-darkrom.html

Thanks Dave! These shed darkrooms sure seem to be gaining popularity. Have you built a darkroom in your backyard? Be sure to send photos with information about your setup to info@pdexposures.com!

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Last week, Kodak posted a notice stating that BW400CN, their C41 processed black and white film, was being discontinued.

Regarding the decision, Kodak wrote that they “empathize with the Pro photographers and consumers who use and love this film, but given the significant minimum order quantity necessary to coat more product combined with the very small customer demand, it is a decision [they] have to make.

While discontinuation of Kodak film stocks were once a constant looming threat, this one comes as somewhat of a surprise; not only is BW400CN one of the most convenient black and white films available for the modern age – chromogenic films require no additional expense to be commercially processed and are more scanner-friendly than traditional black and white material – but the emergence of Kodak Alaris as the consumer arm of the film division seemed like it would, in theory, have led to more stability in Kodak’s film line. I guess this just goes to show that nothing is safe.

Still, on a more positive note, Ilford’s XP2 Super still exists. In many ways, it was always the better of the two films – richer tones and contrast, and easier to wet print in a traditional darkroom – so I’m not exactly crying myself to sleep about the loss of BW400CN. It does, however, highlight the need to buy good film stocks, buy them often, and buy them fresh – otherwise they’ll all go the same way.

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By now, many of you will have heard about a website called “Gallery of Today” which is scraping and posting free downloads of many photographer’s images. If you search for your name, blog title, or various other unique strings at www.galleryoftoday.com, you’ll probably find some of your own.

Obviously, this is a violation of various international copyright laws, most notably the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DCMA). We’ve tracked down the host for the offending website, and the email address to submit a DMCA takedown request is legal@bluehost.com.

If you have never sent a DCMA request before, a great template with an explanation of the process can be found at http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2009/07/06/sample-dmca-take-down-letter/id=4501/

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As some of you may have noticed, I was absent from the latest episode of the Pdexposures Podcast, and Dan Domme filled in – giving Nate a perfect partner with whom he could wax lyrical about automatic compacts without someone scowling at every possible opportunity.

Now, I’m not a fan of automation in cameras. Yep, I’m one of those nerdy guys Dan’s on about towards the end of the episode, and needless to say I don’t agree with him one bit. I don’t like or trust autofocus or autoexposure, and often find myself fighting with them to get them to do what I want or provide the results I intended. It’s why the Olympus Trip, the venerable classic of zone-focus compacts, stays in the cupboard and the Olympus Stylus Epic (or μ[mju:]-II if you live anywhere outside the US) was given away to my mother.

But even if I put aside my misgivings about these newfangled electronic devices, it seems strange to me to go to the effort of buying, shooting, developing and printing (or scanning) film when the most crucial factor in the whole process – the shooting – is reduced to an experience that’s as photographically hands-off as using an iPhone. It just doesn’t seem right somehow.

As such, here’s my favourite alternative “compact” cameras. None of these have electronics, rangefinders or light meters, but all of them will fit into a pocket and take great photos. Yes, they may seem like more work than a Yashica T4 or Contax T2 at first, but once upon a time, photographers worked without these modern crutches and managed just fine. In fact, some still do, and so can you. So dust off that Sunny 16 rule, work out some points of reference for common distance measurements, and pick one of these up!

1) The Smena Symbol

Smena Symbol

I have to start with the Smena. Why? Well, because the first 35mm camera I ever loved was a Smena – the humble Smena 8M. It cost me a massive £4.13 and was my training ground for composing within a 2:3 frame instead of a nice and comfy 6×6 square. Now, the Smena isn’t a complex machine, nor is it amazingly well-built, but damn – it looks awesome. It’s a fantastically retro piece of Soviet Kitsch that fits into your pocket (just – it’s about the same size as the Olympus Trip 35), and allows a lot of room for growth; the aperture, shutter speed and distance markings come in both real and simplified versions, with handy symbols simplifying your choice in case you don’t know how to choose an aperture and shutter speed yet. Don’t know whether f/4 and 1/125 will do? Set the film speed on the aperture ring instead of an F-stop and choose the icon on the shutter speed ring that best describes the weather conditions. Similar iconography will help you judge how far various distances are when you scale focus. And, of course, thanks to it’s LOMO* heritage, it actually has a fantastic glass lens. If you put some decent film behind it, you’ll find out why Russian optics have such a good reputation – even if Soviet camera bodies sometimes leave a bit to be desired.

So why the Symbol instead of my beloved 8M? Well, the 8M has various flaws, not least of which being that the shutter is manually cocked by a lever to the right of the lens as you hold it – which can occasionally catch on the fingers of your right hand and keep the shutter open if you’re not expecting it. The lever wind and automatic shutter cock of the Symbol negates this flaw and makes for a much better camera.

*note: LOMO, not Lomography. Don’t confuse the two. LOMO used to be a well-respected optics manufacturer before some Austrian marketing students co-opted the name.

2) The Robot Star

Robot Star

The Robots are ridiculous cameras. Clockwork driven and with a solid metal body, these are basically the perfect street shooter’s tool but are often overlooked, and I don’t fully understand why. They’re tiny, shooting a 24mm x 24mm frame on standard 35mm, and have one of the quietest shutters you’ll never hear. The loudest part of the whole camera is the clockwork film advance, but if you hold the shutter button down, it’ll only advance when you release it – half way down the street and a long way from your subject. Other than that they’re fully manual, with scale focusing and your standard shutter speed and aperture options. The one other thing they do have that may surprise you is that the lens is actually interchangeable, but that’s not worth much; the lenses aren’t easy to find, and there’s not a lot of options. Thankfully, the Zeiss Tessar they typically come with is, as you’d expect, a fantastic piece of glass.

Just avoid earlier Robot cameras like the Robot II – they needed a pair of special Robot film cassettes that are usually even harder to find than the lenses.

3) The Zeiss Ikon Nettar II 518/16

Zeiss Ikon Nettar (518 / 16)

In a roundabout way, the Robot leads us to this dark horse. Zeiss made a lot of folding cameras – the first real compact camera option for most photographers – but this one has a special place in my heart. As listeners to the podcast may know, years back a certain lady bought a camera I had my eyes on before I had the chance to buy it, and this was it. Now, folding cameras are all fundamentally the same, and any decent-spec 6×6 folding camera in good condition will produce good results, but as mentioned previously, Zeiss glass is always worth the money. The reason I’m recommending this one (as opposed to the many other Zeiss folders) is it seems to be in a sweet spot with regards to price, features, and size. 6×9 is fantastic to work with but too big to be considered “compact”, and models with coupled rangefinders rack the price up far too much.

And yes, it did make amazing photos.

4) The Tessina

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Regular listeners will remember this got a fleeting mention in the TLR episode of the podcast. So why does it crop up here as well? Well, because it uses 35mm film (albeit with a 14mm x 21mm frame) and is TINY. As I mentioned in the podcast, this thing came with a wrist strap that was literally a wrist strap; it didn’t hang limply from it, you wore it. Like a watch. Coming in at 2.5″ x 2″ x 1″, this is the smallest compact mentioned either here or in the last episode, but it still manages to fit in Robot-esque clockwork film winding and a full range of shutter speeds and apertures, with an equally tiny add-on selenium meter available if you can find it.

Sadly, I can’t talk about how good it is to use; I’ve never been able to get my hands on one. If anyone wants to donate one to me so that I can update this article, please email me at Tony@pdexposures.com. I’m deadly serious.

5) The Leica I

1925-1928: LEICA I-A.   Ernst Leitz GmbH, Wetzlar, Alemania

As if I could have a list of great cameras without dropping Leica into the mix. I think most people know that Leica’s “compacts” in the normal sense of the word are typically mediocre, but the very first Leica heralded the birth of the compact concept and set a lot of standards as to how 35mm cameras should look, feel and behave. Scoff all you like at the brand and the praise it gets, but the fixed lens Leica I really is about as simple as you can get; a 50mm f/3.5 Elmar, an aperture ring and seven shutter speeds. Well, eight if you include Z or “Zeit”, which would become the more familiar B on later cameras. Using it now is as hands-off and liberating as Dan Domme claims electronic compacts are; it fits easily into the hand and quickly adjusting it for light and focus becomes second nature. I only had the chance to play with one once, but it’s a very addictive feeling. The focusing tab is your only focusing guide, and if you know what you’re doing and are familiar with the camera you can set it entirely by feel as you bring it up to your eye, making it a quicker focusing system than 95% of all electronic autofocus systems.

Sadly, the fixed lens Leica I is getting harder to find at a reasonable price as old models fall out of use and into the vaults of collectors. Thankfully, a Leica Standard – which is fundamentally the same but with interchangeable lenses – makes a perfect substitute, and also allows entry into the Barnack system. There’s a lot you can do with a Standard if you have the right accessories, and if you were to equip it with a 28mm f/2.8 Canon lens and a 28/35 Voigtlander mini-finder, you’d have a compact street shooting rig even Winogrand would probably be envious of.

 

So there we go. Five compact cameras that aren’t actually considered “compact cameras” but I’d personally rather own and use than any 80’s electronic consumer gadget.

Particularly the Tessina.

 


Image credits: Smena Symbol by Flickr user Michele M. F..
Robot Star by Flickr user Olivier Klein.
Zeiss Ikon Nettar (518 / 16) by Flickr user Rich.
Tessina by Flickr user Craig Newsom.
1925-1928: LEICA I-A. Ernst Leitz GmbH, Wetzlar, Alemania by Flickr userColeccionando Camaras.
All images used under the Creative Commons license. If your image was used and you would like it removed please e-mail info@pdexposures.com.

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Four years ago, a group of intrepid photographers decided to try and recreate 4×5 instant film, and after much trial and error they have now launched a Kickstarter to raise the necessary funds to launch their new film into the world.

According to their kickstarter, they first began researching patents, papers and started researching people with knowledge on how to develop these pieces in addition to finding vendors who could provide raw materials.

Being transparent was a major concern to the group and they chronicled everything they had worked on on the official New55 blog.

Proceeds from the kickstarter will be broken out in a variety of ways. The team plans on using it to fund more research in missing components, aquire assembling machines to produce the film, obtain engineering assistance and manufacture the “first edition” of New55 film.

There are risks involved; however the heads feel they have mitagated these by seeking advice from experts in the instant film community, including The Impossible Project, 20×24 Studio, Soundwave Research Lab and a long list of photographers.

In addition, the New55 staff has plenty of experience working in their favor. Bob Crowley, founder of New55 has years of experience as a materials research scientist with a long resume working in the wireless communications, medical and sound reinforcement industries. Joining him is Sam Hiser as CEO; bringing with him experience in software, start-ups and finance; bringing a smooth opperation to the bussiness affairs.

At the time of this writing, New55 has raised 14k of their four hundred thousand dollar goal.