April 18, 2011

Ultimate film cameras for the perfect collection?

The Canon 1/2 frame Demi EE17
As I'm preparing for my summer Modern Alternative Photographic Practices class,  I'm dusting off some of my film cameras and running some tests.  Cross-processing, Holga-ing, panoramic-ing and other stuff and it got me thinking about the film cameras that I have held onto and the ones that got away.  Going one step further I let my mind wander into creating a list of camera classics that have stood the test of time. 

So below is my list of notable film cameras, worthy of a spot in your china cabinet or sock drawer even when there is no longer film available. They are in no other order then the way I thought of them.  Some represent a technological breakthrough while others represent steadfast resilience in the professional world and some are meanful to me,  but all are particularly cool in some way or another.

Syliva taking a break from her Peking Duck
Widelux F8, This particular camera has enjoyed a resergence in popularity (and price #@%&;!!) due to Jeff Bridges public use of the camera.  His site is great and definitely worth checking out.  The F8 was the last Widelux produced by the Panon company who, on this model finally figured out that round helicals kept the rotating lens drum from leaving vertical streaks on the film that earlier models were unfortunately known for.   While I’ve never owned an F8, I got to shoot a roll of film through the amazing Sylvia Plachy’s absolutely brassed camera at the Bejing airport and I've been on the hunt ever since.

Canon EOS 1v  The look and feel of a high end digital camera in a fantastic film camera. Some have called it the finest (actually, the most technologically advanced) 35mm film camera ever made.  All the modern lenses work, it's truly a joy to handle and shoot with. It can be set up with two different grips, one holding 8 AA batteries and one holding only 4 AA batteries.  It will work without a grip too, its tough to make a call on which set up is the most comfortable, as all three configurations make the camera easy to handle and a joy to shoot with.

Canon new F1 with 85mm f/1.2. The workhorse of the 80's and 90's, plus the first professional camera I ever owned.  Crazy fast motor and tack sharp lens, coupled with HP5 it is truly something to beat.  This was a staple of the press corp for years.

Canonet QL17 GIII, dubbed the poor mans Leica, with it's built in meter, razor sharp lens, and 1.2 million sold over 11 years.  Everybody should have this extremely affordable classic in their collection.

The New Fuji X100...familiar???
Canon Demi EE17, just a cool little wonder, often holding it's value though, it looks freakishly similar the new Fuji x100 digital camera...hmmm?  72 frames on a roll of 36 exposure, you can almost shoot with wild abandon...you know just like a digital camera.  Any half decent mini lab (Sam's club and even the Walgreens across from Harrington) can print diptics for you. Very fun little camera.

April 6, 2011

Terrifying reality…

"It is a great time to be a photographer…it’s just not a great time to be a professional…"

Outgoing ASMP President and Pittsburgh corporate/editorial photographer Richard Kelly uttered this brilliantly poignant quote on the eve of SB3, a three-day ASMP business summit on its final stop here in Chicago over the weekend. 

What makes these 19 words brilliant is they have summed up the current
state of the industry with pinpoint accuracy. The same 19 words are terrifying because they have summed up the current state of the industry with pinpoint accuracy.

My response, and what I urge the students I work with on a daily basis is to take heart in this: YES, the industry is nothing like it was...ever!

And keep in mind, my father is a retired corporate industrial photographer, I have
truly grown up in the darkroom and have seen and been involved in commercial photography my entire life.

But the fact that the industry is nothing like it ever was doesn't mean it's dead, hopefully not yet at least.

It's waiting… waiting to be redefined and reinvented.

Just as the design and printing industry did when PageMaker showed up and typesetters found themselves on the chopping block, they were suddenly faced with competition from anyone and everyone sporting a newfangled Macintosh and an idea to pimp.  And we know how that ended up, don’t we?  Just ask your local typesetter…

I see the enthusiasm of from our students and I'm hopeful. Networking doesn't need to be taught to future photographers and media professionals, it just needs to be refined or redirected, ‘focused’ if you will.  Our youth understands its full potential better then we do, heck they invented it, we are learning from them.