Monday, January 20, 2020

Drawing: Katie Watching

Katie Watching, 5.5" x 8", Pen on paper, 2019-2020.

A collection of observational drawings made over the course of several months.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Spotlight: Nikon L35AF

The Nikon L35AF is Nikon's first autofocus point-n-shoot camera. It was first released in 1983. The L35AF features a fixed 35mm f/2.8 prime lens, and fully automatic operation. Unlike most pocket cameras, the L35AF takes common AA batteries (thank God).

There are hardly any controls on the L35AF besides the shutter button, which makes the camera pretty much idiot-proof, and ideal for beginners. The only exposure setting you can manually adjust is the ISO, by twisting a dial that encircles the lens. There is also an exposure compensation (+2 EV) switch and self-timer, but that's pretty much it. With the L35AF, pretty much all control is given up to the camera. You can't even manually pop up the flash for daylight fill! To do this you have to cover the lens with your hand and half-press the shutter to trick the camera into thinking it's dark.

The viewfinder in this camera is pretty great for a point-n-shoot. The finder is nice and large, with clear framelines. The best part of the finder is the little distance scale at the bottom. When you half-press the shutter button to focus, a little pointer on the scale will indicate if the subject is near or far away. This confirms to the user that the camera is focusing on the subject, and not the background or foreground. I wish all viewfinder cameras had this feature, as it takes the guesswork out of autofocus, and allowed me to make exposures with confidence.

I love the small size of the L35AF. The lens barely sticks out at all, which makes the camera easy to stick in a coat pocket. The textured grip allows one to grip and operate the camera easily with one hand. It's pretty inconspicuous, though the film advance is loud. To make up for the noise, the film only advances after the shutter button is released. This means you can make a picture silently, walk away, and then have the camera wind to the next frame.

Below are some photographs I made with the Nikon L35AF. I used Arita EDU Ultra 400 film. My exposures came out okay, if not a tad on the underexposed side. I'm not super impressed with the sharpness of these images, but that could also be because I used cheapo film.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Drawing: Point n' Shoot

I'm teaching a darkroom class next week, and their first assignment is with a point n' shoot camera. I made this little comic to help my students achieve optimal results. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Spotlight: Pentax KX

The 1975 Pentax KX is one of the first cameras to utilize Pentax's then-new bayonet K-Mount system. While a cool camera in its own right, it's difficult to discuss the KX without comparing it to Pentax's similar looking, and infinitely more iconic K1000 model. In fact, people who saw me using this camera assumed it was a K1000. Though the KX and K1000 share the same body design, the KX has more bells and whistles than the basic K1000. It's kind of like the K1000's older, beefier brother.

Like the K1000, the KX is a fully manual 35mm SLR. Batteries are only required to operate the camera's internal light meter. Activating the meter is a bit awkward: you first have to pull out the advance lever, and then half-press the shutter button. If you're a left eye user like me, pulling out the advance lever is not a comfortable action when the camera is against your face. At least you can fire the shutter without first pulling out the lever, unlike with Nikon's FM cameras.

The KX has a full-information viewfinder. All of your shutter speeds are viewable, with a blue bar next to the one you currently have selected. The meter needle will point exactly to the speed you should use based on your currently selected aperture and ISO. It's much more sophisticated than the traditional "+/-" match needle system. Your lens aperture is also viewable through a little window at the top of the finder. Unfortunately, the focusing screen is fixed; you are unable to swap it out to use different focusing aids. The screen you get with the KX is a microprism/matte screen. It's serviceable and sharp, but I'd rather have a split-image/rangefinder screen for faster focusing.

Ergonomic on the camera are solid. The KX is an all-metal camera that feels solid in the hand. Shutter speeds (1 - 1/1000 + B) are selected via a typical knob on top of the camera, and ISO (8 - 6400) is selected by turning the dial the encircles the rewind knob. You can lock the shutter by flicking a switch located around the release. Mirror lock-up is available for precision tripod work, a feature rarely seen on 35mm Pentax cameras. A self timer is also present if you don't have a cable release handy or want to be in the photograph yourself. Unfortunately, multiple exposures are not possible with the KX. Lame.

Ultimately I liked using the KX. It didn't blow me away, but it's still a solid camera, and a worthy upgrade from the K1000. Below are some photographs I made with it.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Drawing: Christmas

Observational drawing of Pearson and Katie at Tom's house on Christmas. 8" x 5.5" pen on paper.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Duration: UPS

An 8x Multiple exposure of Katie walking to and from UPS on a chilly day. Made with my Nikon Df and 50mm f/1.8 lens.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Collage: Shifting Mansion

A 7"x7" collage of some old contact prints I found sitting in my dad's basement.