This is Eamon Hickey's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Eamon Hickey's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Eamon Hickey
Recent Activity
On the subject of modest telephoto zooms, Nikon also made a 50-135mm f3.5, which is a very nice range and max aperture, IMHO. It was a very good lens for its time; only drawback is that it's a little large-ish. It's the subject of "Tale 61" in Nikon's "Thousand and One Nights" series of history articles, many of which are quirkily charming. In Tale 61, we learn the story of the "yamaji type" zoom lens design:
Toggle Commented Jul 22, 2020 on Nikon's New Z5 at The Online Photographer
Funny that Ken mentioned toxic landfills. When I was selling for Nikon, I had a dealer who had that exact experience. He bought a nice new lot on which he constructed a made-to-order, long dreamed-of building for his camera store, which had hitherto existed in a cramped old generic storefront. The new building really was nice, as camera stores go (or went, in the 90s). Then the county discovered severe toxic contamination on the site. It had been a small-scale electronics factory two decades earlier and several owners back, and its operators had a free-spirited attitude towards dumping chemicals any ol' place that seemed convenient. So my dealer was on the hook for the cleanup and, of course, the land was worthless until decontaminated. He had been tied up in lawsuits against layers of previous owners for several years by the time I met him, but the original polluters had long since dissolved their corporation (no personal liability, remember) and scattered to the four winds. I don't know how the saga ended, but I doubt it was good.
Toggle Commented Jul 2, 2020 on Wisconsin Mystery at The Online Photographer
@John Camp: "One thing that's always puzzled me about business is the question of who would buy a company like Olympus Imaging..." My strong suspicion is that JIP is not buying Olympus Imaging. Olympus will likely pay JIP to take it off their hands. This fact will not be explicit in the details of the transaction, but will be clear to anyone with experience disposing of distressed assets. Some money may go to Olympus from JIP but Olympus will include assets in the transaction that are worth far more than whatever money they receive. The Memorandum of Understanding is very careful not to use the word "buy" or "sell". It says that the Imaging Business will be "transferred" to JIP.
Toggle Commented Jun 27, 2020 on Olympus R.I.P.? at The Online Photographer
Konstantin's shot with the backlit trees is very characteristic of every classic (read: ca. 70s, 80s, 90s) "nifty-fifty" SLR lens I've tried, all of which have been pretty similar double-gauss designs. They give moderately yucky (that's the optical engineering term) bokeh when used wide open with lots of small, backlit detail in the background (foliage especially). Stopping down by even one stop improves the situation quite a bit, in my experience (which, of course, is not exhaustive, given that there are probably 50+ different varieties of that particular beast). In fairness, small, backlit detail in the background is hard for most lenses, I think.
I don't mean to get all heavy here, but wonderful things like this really and truly give me hope for us as a species. We use our minds in so many bad ways (which, don't worry, I won't list), but sometimes they come up with something truly wondrous like this. Just a simple, yet somehow startling, twist of genius, with no purpose other than to spread pleasure.
@Steve Rosenblum re: shutterspeed tester for iPhone I use an app called Shutter-Speed. The app is free, and when used alone it works by using the iPhone's microphone to time the sound of the shutter mechanism. I found it to be reasonably usable and accurate for leaf shutters at speeds of about 1/60 or slower. You read the audio waveform and mark the peaks to determine the opening and closing of the shutter. The developer also sells an accessory 'probe' (about $30) that plugs into the iPhone's headphone/microphone jack (you'll need a lightning adapter on later iPhones). This probe converts light to sound, so now the app works by timing the light coming through the shutter opening. It still shows you a waveform, but the waveform is significantly better defined than the audio version, and gives me a usable result at least up to 1/500 with leaf shutters. I've never tested a focal plane shutter. I can't say exactly how accurate it is, since I don't have a commercial shutter speed tester to compare it to. But based on my exposures of film, it seems like it's reasonably accurate. I get what I expect from the shutters I've tested with it (5 of them as of now). Here's the app:
Toggle Commented Jan 3, 2020 on Nostalgic Nikons at The Online Photographer
Any man who works in the darkroom wearing a bow tie and links in his French cuffs is a far better man than I. Wonderful!
Toggle Commented Nov 13, 2019 on Here's Your Illustration! at The Online Photographer
Canon's FF mirrorless rollout is clearly a little uncoordinated, with poor synchronization between its body and lens introductions, as you noted, Mike. They mis-timed their "okay, now we get serious" moment (as did Nikon, but not as badly), and now they're scrambling a bit. But this will be temporary. We can't see what Canon's elves are doing, but certainly they are tinkering away on cameras that will be a great match for the mondo high-end lenses Canon has announced, and modest lenses that will be a great match for the RP and its successors. This is a long game, with a ton o' stuff coming down the pike that Canon knows about and we don't. They don't have to get everything right in the first 5 minutes. In 24 months the RF system will undoubtedly look a lot more logical and well-rounded with jillions of happy users.
Strange coincidence: I just watched a vlog where the vlogger/photographer visits the same location depicted in Sexton's shot (although in winter) and decides to take no pictures. The location is at about the 4:30 mark in this video for anyone curious, but the beginning of the video is worth watching for context. Although I'm not a huge fan of landscape photography, I've recently developed the weird habit of watching a lot of landscape photography vlogs. The vlogger in the above video is my current favorite. His name is Adam Gibbs, and he photographs mostly in British Columbia and other parts of western Canada. A lot of vloggers affect an I'm-young-and-hip-and-my-life-is-a-nonstop-fabulous-adventure kid of vibe, but Gibbs is not so young, blessedly calm, and a little wry, a vibe I much prefer. His vlogs, especially the more recent ones, are usually gorgeous. He's helped immensely, of course, by the place where he lives, but it's pretty amazing what a one-man-band can do these days in terms of visual production. He packs a small video/audio setup, a drone, a couple of tripods, and a Nikon D850 into a backpack and makes beautiful 10-15 minute travelogs/photo lessons, all on his own. As I said, I watch a possibly alarming number of these vlogs, not just his. There's a sub-genre of guys who traipse around taking pictures with their dogs, and I can't resist those either, for obvious reasons. What it says about my life that I'm spending so many hours in my cramped Manhattan apartment dreaming about far away and empty places is a question I should probably examine.
@ David Dyer-Bennet Not sure if I'm reading your comment right, but if you're concerned about whether the Z7 and Z6 have two dials, they do. Thumb and forefinger — very much like all other mid and upper end Nikon bodies. They were easy and comfortable to operate for me. The Z cameras also have an extremely good and well-placed AF-ON button for so-called back-button autofocus, which is critical for me. So many manufacturers, including companies that get tons of praise in these parts (cough, Fuji), can't get this right. It baffles me.
Ask and ye shall receive. Here is the Z-mount S-Line 35mm f/1.8 Here is the Z-mount S-Line 50mm f/1.8 I'll let everyone evaluate for themselves the complexity of these designs, and their similarity or lack thereof to F-mount Nikkor designs. (I emailed higher res versions to Mike directly.)
I bought a medium format film camera recently, and it's a: rangefinder. This was driven mainly by my desire for a 6x7 format camera; none of the SLRs available in that format really appealed to me. If I wanted 6x6, I'd probably get a TLR. On the Fuji, I prefer the rangefinder style, but I'd actually get an X-T20 for its feature mix. If the X-Pro2 were a little smaller and had a tilting LCD, I'd choose it instead. If the X-100F had a base 28mm lens and an add-on converter to make it a 50, plus a tilting LCD, it would be my dream camera. I need to start my own camera company.
Toggle Commented May 24, 2018 on Two Questions at The Online Photographer
@ Severian I took to digital like the proverbial duck to water back in the late 1990s, and I was sure I would never shoot film again, too. And I would have bet a year's salary I would never, ever endure the tedium of developing the junk at home again. And then this past summer I was seized by a sudden, utterly inexplicable obsession to buy a 40-year-old 6x9 Mamiya rangefinder. And, inevitably, a month after that I was tapping a Paterson developing tank on my bathroom countertop, for the first time in 25 years. I'll never say never again is what I'm sayin', again.
Mark me down as another 28mm/55mm kind of guy. With today's high-resolution cameras, cropping is a viable option in many more situations than it was with 35mm film, IMHO. So now when I think of a prime lens, I consider it to have "secondary" focal lengths up to, say, 50% longer than its true focal length, for practical purposes. So a 28mm is also a 35mm or a 40mm. And a 55mm is also a 75mm, within limits. Then, too, shooting and stitching multi-shot panoramas is so easy now, in many (not all) circumstances you can use a lens as if it's wider than it really is.
Loved looking at all these pictures and processes — thank you to all who submitted. And Moose, thank you for posting that wonderful wedding shot — just fantastic. I was on that block of Flatbush Ave. about a year ago — a friend lives in a house around the corner, on the same block as the studio of the photographer who took your picture back in 1947. So your shot gave me that sense of wonder I always feel when photography reveals the layers of time that attach to a place, or a building, or even a person, and the change that time brings with it. I also love learning new things about how professional photographers worked in the good ol' days. The banquet camera concept was new to me, but, of course, it makes perfect sense.
I have the opposite feeling about the 8008s. In 1991, I was working in a camera store in Northern California that was a decidedly Nikon-leaning shop. My faithful steed, at the time, was a Minolta SRT-101, bought used for me by my mother and uncle in 1978. In the early 1990s, Nikon USA had a program whereby if you worked in a camera store, you could earn points for selling Nikon stuff and then cash those points in for Nikon gear of your own. I was a good salesman, and I saved up enough points for, ta da!, an 8008s. (It was comparatively a lot of points.) I still remember when that box came from Nikon USA, addressed not to the store but to me, my first brand new camera, a high-end Nikon to boot! A thrill from a more innocent time. That camera was a very satisfying object for me, much more for what it symbolized for a kid who grew up in a family of modest means than for any pictures I took with it (which were relatively few).
Photography may not be getting easier, but man are you right that certain aspects of operating a camera are a lot easier. I was recently possessed by (another) bout of insanity and bought a Mamiya Universal press camera (a giant rangefinder, typically equipped with a 6x9 film back). It takes four — count 'em four — separate controls to make your next picture. You: activate the film advance release catch; wind the film advance lever twice; cock the shutter with the cocking lever; trip the shutter with the shutter release. Crazy. But fun! For now. What may turn out to be the most pleasurable thing about buying this camera was that it led me to discover a Youtube phenomenon named Peter Elgar. He's just great fun to listen to; a living embodiment of an era now long past, yet 100X cooler than any of the young ranters trying to make a career on social media. Here's his rundown of the sister camera to mine, the Super 23:
I actually love the picture, and I'm glad you ponied up for the right to publish it. I was once out and about in the California countryside with a Nikon 800mm f/5.6 lens when I spied a bobcat. He was so far away that, even with the 800, there was no point in trying to get a shot. I just enjoyed watching him; he acted exactly like a regular house cat. That was the closest I ever got to one. From the looks of this picture, I guess I should have been checking the back alleys around my apartment building. Who knew.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2017 on Funny Photo Rant at The Online Photographer
Well, your old nostalgia train provided me with a few hours of diverting entertainment. Despite being a manager in a pretty good camera store in the late 80s/early 90s, I knew basically nothing of the Exakta 66 or its East German progenitor, the Pentacon 6. The site you linked to (for the picture of Herr Mandermann) has page after page of operational and historical information about the Pentacon 6 of the kind that can only be written by a passionate devotee. I mean that as a great compliment. I had to fight the very strong urge to buy one, even though there's no chance I would shoot more than one roll of film before my attention wandered!
Toggle Commented Aug 3, 2017 on The Old Nostalgia Train at The Online Photographer
You've sparked a somewhat different take on finishing a great book for me; certain kinds of really great books can be kind of maddening to me, if there's nothing (or very little) else that is as good. I'm haunted, for example, by John le Carré's two great Cold War masterpieces, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People. No other espionage novels have ever really come close, no matter how often book jacket blurbs, publisher ads, and book reviewers say so. I almost wish I hadn't read them (10 times each, by now, I think) because their greatness makes all other spy stories pale in comparison. I want that amazing feeling that Tinker, Tailor gives you when you first read it, and I've never found it anywhere else. So part of me is perversely resentful of the book, and of le Carré himself. I have similar, if less intense, feelings about (some, not all) of the crime stories and novels of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I don't feel the same way about great non-genre books (fiction or non-fiction), for some reason, and I don't feel it about great photographs or books of photographs, either.
Toggle Commented Jun 1, 2017 on Have Faith at The Online Photographer
On the other hand ... I recently came to wish I had a little bit more perfectionism in me. Two years ago I bought a moderate wide angle lens for about $300 — refurbished with a warranty. I intended to use it as a knockaround street/travel lens, and so, embracing un-perfectionism, I gave it only a cursory test. It seemed okay, and okay was all I aspired to. The first few times I used it, I did get a couple of weirdly unsharp results, but, reveling in my loosey-goosey air, I dismissed these shots as no big deal to a sensible guy like me. I didn't use the lens all that often, so time passed without any cause for alarm, and the warranty expired. Recent bad results in pictures that mattered to me caused me to look more closely at the lens, and sure enough, it's significantly defective when used in a specific way that I use it about 30% of the time. Now for the kicker: the manufacturer, who I won't name, does not provide any spare parts for the lens. It can't be repaired. (The first time I've encountered this in a new, still-on-the-market lens in 35 years of photography.) It's out of warranty, so I have no legal right to a replacement. I'm out $300, which I am hereby writing off to the bitter wages of un-perfectionism.
I may have posted this before; if so, please ignore! Once, while busily procrastinating, I did a little research on the word bokeh, as used in English. (Somebody was claiming it was in common use before the Photo Techniques articles were published, which I knew to be untrue.) I have access to Lexis-Nexis, and its database did contain one (and only one) prior English-language citation of the word, and it's not referring to photography. Instead, it uses the word to denote mental blur, which I thought was really interesting. It's from the Nov. 8, 1990 edition of The Washington Post, in an article by T.R. Reid about the reluctance of the Japanese population to allow their Prime Minister to send any Japanese troops overseas. Here's the relevant paragraph: " ... much of the country seems to be fearful of any foreign involvement. The attitude, dating back to Japan's disastrous defeat in World War II, is a broader and longer-lasting version of what in America came to be known as the "post-Vietnam syndrome." The term for it here is heiwa bokeh, which translates as "peace senility."" What a lovely phrase and idea: peace senility. So this doesn't in any way change the story of bokeh in its photographic sense in English. But in its "mental blur" sense it did escape Japan as early as 1990, and the Post editors decided to transliterate it with the 'h', just as Mike did a few years later. Great minds think alike!
re: resale price maintenance Jack's answer regarding the Leegin decision was exactly right. There's a complex -- and, to me, fascinating -- history of resale price maintenance law and economics in the U.S. (and elsewhere). Won't go into the details here, but the Leegin decision was an extremely consequential event for everyday American life -- in more and more industries, companies are using it to control price competition between retailers and the extent and depth of discounting in U.S. stores. The mechanism they use, which Leegin made possible, is called "Unilateral pricing" -- a Google search will turn up plenty of stories on it. There's been a kerfuffle over it in the contact lens industry, and that story is an incredibly instructive example of how economics, competing (and typically unpretty) interest groups, and government policy interact with big consequences for us little folks.
Toggle Commented Mar 7, 2017 on Tasty Olympuses at The Online Photographer
Wonderful! I love how they were scrambling for a roll of film. Been there! Of course, it's a hoary old cliché to say that the sight of Earth like that should make us all acutely aware of the fragility of our unbelievably beautiful home in this cold universe. And clearly, it hasn't -- we're merrily despoiling it just as fast as we ever did. But it should have made us aware.
One further note to keep in mind: with the lithography division writing off 29.7b yen in inventory (29.7b yen is 29,700 million yen), and the company forecasting "only" a 9b (9,000m) yen loss overall, it's essentially certain that the camera division will be posting an operating profit for the year. It's the lithography division that will drag the company into an overall net loss. So if you're analyzing Nikon, the really urgent question is not about cameras at all. The question is what's wrong with the lithography division, and how can they fix it? (That question goes back a long ways; Nikon's first loss-making year ever in its history was in 1992 (talk about hand-wringing!). And the cause was -- yep, huge inventory write-downs in the lithography division. Everything old ...