Sunday, December 21, 2008

New lenses, new films, good times.

A couple things to talk about, mostly Polaroid related (of course). First, it's a funky eBay purchase I recently made...a set of Polaroid camera accessories, mostly redundant and completely useless. Check this out:

And that's minus a couple boxes I gave to a friend. For $9.99, I got five copiers for Swinger 20s, one copier for the Big Swinger 3000, two lens sets for 100 series cameras, one lens set for the Swinger 20, and one lens set for the Big Swinger 3000. The latter was the one I was interested in, as that's the only (usable) camera I have of the bunch. I think Kalimar is the Japanese company name, and Kaligar is the imported brand.
So I tried out the Big Swinger 3000 set. It comes with a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens and a viewfinder attachment, all in a nice little case. Unfortunately, the velvety red interior is now red dust.

Here is the naked Big Swinger 3000...

And with a lens attached...

Not exactly elegant, but still pretty cool. So how do they work? I didn't want to waste a bunch of film doing the same shot with each lens more than once, so I just did one scene for comparison, using Fuji FP-3000B. First is a natural shot, no extra lens.

Then the telephoto lens...

And then the wide-angle lens...

The only reason the last shot is lighter is because I was messing with the exposure, as the first two were so dark. It was a very cloudy, chilly day, so the light was low. Definitely a difference between the three! I actually think I like the telephoto shot. It warps the sides a bit and has a nice vignette. They will be interesting to use with some people in the shots. This is a closer shot taken with the telephoto lens.

Can't really tell, but it would be framed much tighter without the lens. Very dark, as well. It was a dark corner of a building, but this brings up the main problem with the lenses. The YES exposure system has a bit of trouble functioning through the extra glass. The system is technically all manual. You twist the knob until you can see YES in the window, which is really just opening and closing the aperture (the camera only shoots at one speed). With the lens attached, you can barely see the YES at all, so after a couple shots I found myself taking the lens off to set the exposure.
Here are a couple goops from above.

One of the few times I've gotten solarization from FP-3000B. I think it must have something to do with temperature while developing, because it was probably 38F outside. So, anyway, another toy to play with. Oh, here is a copier...

I'll mess with it at some point, but I'm not sure quite how it works. For one thing, you are supposed to be at least five feet from your subject when using the camera. And I'm not sure how you get enough light to expose your copy without getting reflection. The Big Swinger 3000 was a cheap camera, so it's not like this is a professional studio setup. According to the box, you just attach it to the camera like above, with nothing about an additional lens. It says you can take close-up shots with it as well, which makes very little sense to me, knowing the basics of focal lengths, etc.
Actually, I'm going to leave all that there, but try it right now. Duh. I used a frame from a Peanuts comic.

Ummm...yeah. About what I expected. I fired the shutter twice because I knew there wouldn't be enough light available. You can see the frame edge in the shot, as well. Sooo...let's try one with the telephoto lens. I know it won't work, but maybe it will.

Nope, even worse. So, I have no idea. There must be a close-up lens you are supposed to use, but it says nothing about it on the box. It just pretends you can hook it to the camera and magically take shots from four inches away. Oh well, still interesting.
A quick bit about the new Polaroid films from Polapremium, 100 Chocolate and 100 Sepia. I was going to save this for a separate post, as these things tend to go a bit long, but I want to get it over with while I'm in the mood (baby).
I didn't buy any 100 Blue, but I may at some point. It might work well for the summer monsoon. First is the 100 Chocolate.

I've used the original Type 80 Chocolate...this is just more of the same tastiness, except more of it. I shot a pack in my Colorpack III and was very pleased with the results. Chocolate is one of my favorites, and the 100 didn't disappoint. Lovely texture, lovely tones. Gives many of the photos a watercolor effect. Here are a few examples...

Then we have the 100 Sepia.

It's a bit of an odd man out, sitting at 1500 ISO. This makes it difficult to use in a non-manual Polaroid camera (though people have gotten decent results from some of them, so far). I used my 180 so I could take advantage of the exposure range. I started I think at about F16 and 125. It was a dark day, so adjustments will be made depending on light. It's an interesting film, very much like 667 with a sepia undertone. It's cold and warm at the same time. It has the cold, harsh look of 667 while still having a wider range between the light and dark areas. And with the sepia adding a bit of warmth, the effect is different than any other available Polaroid film. A few shots, of course...

You can see the wide exposure range, from under to overexposed. I don't use a light meter or anything, but that keeps things interesting. As an added bonus, it makes a nice goop, as well. Much like 667 and Fuji FP-3000B, but a bit softer.

That's it for now. Next time I want to show you some Polaroid film that expired in 1989, and it still works! I leave you with a shot of a sweet batch of 120 film I picked up for cheap, all expired between 1969 and 1972.

I love Verichrome and it usually ages very well. It will be interesting to use the vintage slide film, also. Seeya, peeps. Happy Holidays, whatever you happen to celebrate.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Polaroid Pinhole V 1.02

I've made a couple Polaroid pinholes in the past, most recently using a ProPack back. That camera is now defunct, as in no more. The ProPack back is currently attached to a box camera. Well, I kinda missed my pinhole, and I thought it about time to make a "proper" pinhole Polaroid. Something a bit more permanent that doesn't look like crap. I bought an Automatic 102 awhile ago that I've never used because I didn't feel like messing with the batteries. That, and I have 10 other Polaroid cameras to use. The 102 is a folder, as well, and I thought that would make more sense for a Pinhole, as I could adjust the focal length at any time. And it has a tripod mount, which my previous pinholes were lacking. Though this camera doesn't have a "foot" on the front like my 180 and 195, so it leans forward (and down) when you place it on the ground. I'll have to make a small piece to brace it.
So I took the thing apart. Not a lot of pictures of this process, as it was basically messy and just involved removing as many innards as I could, while keeping the parts I needed.

I used the same pinhole I've used for most of my other projects. I just taped it to the underside of the front cover.

With previous pinholes, I've just used a piece of tape on the front as a "shutter". I wanted something a bit nicer for this one. I thought about using the actual camera shutter...most simple cameras just require removing a spring to allow you to slide the shutter open and closed. Not this camera. The shutter is quite complicated, probably because of the "cocking" system. You cock the shutter with one lever and push the button to fire it. It had a lot of little springs and levers inside. So I just took it out. The camera does have an aperture plate, though. I just taped up the holes I didn't want to use (on a side note, this still has the same plate as the 100, because it had multiple aperture sizes, even though this camera only uses two of them...basically 3000 and 75). So now I can just turn the plate to open and closed.

Another issue to deal with was lightleaks. The camera originally had a seal that I destroyed when I pulled it apart.

I had to think about this one for a day or so. I thought about using some kind of sponge, but I couldn't think of any way to guarantee that light wouldn't shine right through it. While browsing though the craft section at the grocery store, I happened upon the perfect clay.

I just made a seal with the clay...

The clay is also oven-bake clay, so I don't have to worry about it melting when I take it out in the summer. Chances are it will just cook and harden.
Next, it was just a matter of putting it back together. You can see I snapped a piece off by accident...I just used superglue to fix it. And, in the end, we have a very nice looking Polaroid pinhole!

The simple shutter system. Black is closed, red is open. And I can just cover the front with my hand while opening and closing to prevent camera shake.

I also removed a spring from the underside, because the bellow would slide shut by itself when not latched open.

So, it looks nice, but is it functional? I did three test shots from my patio, at three different focal lengths, using Fuji FP-100C. These are 15 second exposures.
First, fully extended (that's what she said).

Then halfway. You can see that the angle is much wider.

And then, just for kicks, bellows closed.

Interesting, but not something I'll probably do again. Next, a couple self shots, the first fully extended, the second somewhere in between, all at 10 seconds.

The first shot, I must have let the shutter open a bit while the bellows were closed. I look bald in the second shot. And, there is obviously some point at which the edges of the pinhole become visible on the film. I'll have to figure out where exactly that is. Another issue is with the bellow not being stable. If the camera is level, everything is fine, but if the camera is at an angle, gravity makes it want to close, so the pinhole moves while exposing. Though the effect is pretty cool.

So I want to come up with some simple, not ugly mechanism to brace the camera at certain focal lengths. I'll have to think about that for awhile. One last shot into the sun...

That's it! This is a much easier pinhole to take out in the field. It's more compact and I don't have to worry about the tape peeling off and creating a bunch of leaks. Just a couple small issues to tackle to make it easier to plan my shots, and I will be set!
I almost titled this post "It's not a pinhole, it's a funhole!" But that just sounds wrong (and oh so right).
For those into Polaroid that haven't noticed, Polapremium (previously Unsaleable) has three new Polaroid 100 types. 100 Chocolate, similar to the 80 Chocolate; 100 Blue, which looks like expired ID-UV to me, maybe a bit softer; and 100 Sepia, a nice, sharp, sepia-toned film with an ISO of 1500, oddly enough. Must be either based on an old recipe (there was a sepia Polaroid film a long time ago), or it's a combination of 667 and Chocolate. I've ordered some, of course, though I skipped the 100 Blue for now. I'll post some impressions when I get it. I love the 80 Chocolate, so I imagine the 100 will just be more magic. The shipping is a bit killer, so if you can combine an order with a friend, you'll be able to buy another pack of film.
Anyway, I'm sure I have other things I need to post about in the future, but I'll think about that stuff later...
Oh, and check out Gake no Ue no Ponyo if you get the chance. Very nice Ghibli feature, made me smile.