Rants and discussions, Sony A200 DSLR and Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM prime lens

Sweeping away bad attitude

Sweeping away the seasons. Sony A200 DSLR. Sony 35mm f/1.8 SAM lens. Open source software.

Woooah!  Colour on Tight Fisted Photography!  What’s going on?  I’ll tell you what is going on.  Sort of an epiphany moment – an insight that I was gathering in my last post – the Four Commandments of Creativity.  I’ve developed (pun) a love for home processed b/w film photography.  It was sort of planned – my drive for finding personal style.  Nothing is changing there.  However, I was getting sucked into some daft gear based elitist nonsense – you know it, the old film v digital bollocks.   The New Tight Fisted Photographer will use whatever gear that he has to hand – whatever it takes to create the image.  Just as important to me as an amateur – whatever gear and method gives me pleasure and satisfaction.  Film gives me most satisfaction – and the results that I like, but digital is sometimes so convenient.

I had a perfectly good DSLR rolling around in a dark dusty drawer, forgotten, because I forsake digital entirely.  This week, I took it out, cleaned it, sorted out my lenses, and ordered some new goodies.  It’s like having a new camera all over again.  I never used it to full potential.  I am of the opinion that an entry level DSLR can be either an overweight, clumsy auto toy for hipsters and tourists, or it can alternatively be a great learning tool for photography.  I would like to improve my photography, and in particular, I’d like to learn more about using artificial light and with portraits.  Ideally in time with medium format film.  But for now, convenience points to this sadly neglected digital camera as a way in.

I always say – it is the Learning Curve that keeps me interested in Photography as a hobby.  I’m going to be less reluctant to use a digital camera.


Film Dark Room, Film, 35mm, and scans

Project – A Dog Chewed One Use (disposable) film camera

Dog Attack – Kodak Disposable Film Camera. Taken with Sony A200 DSLR and Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

The Rear, showing Dog Attack. Will it leak light? Taken with Sony as above image.

I’ve had this one-use or disposable film camera laying in the bottom of a box for a while.  It came with a few other disposables, very expired, but that Nita used with great success, and with a pristine Kodak Box Brownie (Flash III) that I’ve since used with re-rolled film onto 620 spindles, and with a broken Konica S3 rangefinder.  I bought the box at a car boot sale.  I sold the Konica for parts or repair, and that alone made a decent profit from the box, so I guess that makes the price of everything left as nil.

At some point, this camera fell within range of the lurcher’s mouth.  Not the first time, even my trusty XA2 has dog teeth marks.  It got a fair chewing, as you can see from the above photos.

Yesterday was a day off with little to do.  Nita proposed a budget film photography outing, with “looking down” as a theme.  Why not I thought.  I loaded a Poundland film into my 50p Olympus XA2.  Nita also has an XA2, but for more challenge, she picked up this old disposable.  It’s a Kodak Ultra one-use camera with electronic flash, assembled in Mexico.  It only expired around sixteen months ago.  A little Internet research suggests that this camera might be only around six years old.  The film consisted of an unusual Kodak GT800 – 5, a colour film at ISO 800, unusual for Kodak, it seems to have been produced only for disposable cameras such as this one.  I guess that the high speed allows for small aperture, and a longer depth of field to focus on.  I did express my concern at the dog chew marks, that it might light leak – but what’s to lose?

Off we went, around a few local villages, and then the town of Wisbech for a “looking down” photo tour.  Me with the XA2, Nita with the Kodak Ultra.  Then back to the dark room, or rather the bathroom, for developing.  I’d already decided that in order to keep our project as tight fisted and cheapskate as possible, that I would cross process the films, using my Ilford b&w chemicals.  Both films together in the Paterson System 4 tank.

I’d not developed a disposable/one use camera film before.  A quick look on the Internet revealed that they usually reel the 35mm film INTO a 135 style cassette, as you use them.  A reverse of a normal 35mm camera, where you advance it out of the cassette, then when it’s fully used, manually rewind it all back into the cassette for removal (with the exception of course of motor driven winders).  So, in theory, the film should all be safely in the cassette.  Was it?

Kodak Ul;tra One Use Camera. Taken with Sony as above.

Yes.  I smashed open the camera with my usual care, and as can seen above, Nita is holding the cassette of used Kodak Ultra film with the sorry remains of the camera in the background (battery of course, safely disposed of).

Now to the developing.  Bit of a mismatch gamble.  To save time, I processed it WITH the AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 film, out of my XA2 – Poundland film.  Kodak 800 and AgfaPhoto 200, unlikely to share the same developing times.  I was also cross processing as I said above – hand developing using Ilford ID11 and b&w process.  I diluted the ID11 stock to almost 1:3 ID11 to water one shot, at 20C.  I developed for 22 minutes, with 10 seconds inversions per minute.  Followed by stop, generous fix, and extended Ilford style rinse.

Well my prior fears were correct.  Light leaked to hell, freakin’ dog!  Should keep his bloody teeth to himself.  Ah well.  Funny thing is, most passable scan from the negative was of his Highness himself!  Funny really.  See below:

His Highness – Camera Killa. Taken with dog chewed Kodak disposable one use camera. Kodak GT800 -5 (39 exposure) film. Cross processed in Ilford ID-11 b&w chemistry.

Think’s he’s a bloody canine super model.

Monochrome, Rants and discussions, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens

Always Learning

Light on a Tuesday Afternoon. Sony A200 DSLR. Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens. B&W conversion in UFRaw.

I’m bloody broke again.  Not so much tight fisted photographer, as the penniless photographer.  Still, I’ve got digital cameras, some film, and developing chems, so I can use photography in my leisure time until pay day comes around next.  Woke up this afternoon from night shift.  Time to start experimenting with what I’ve been learning recently.  I’ve not really been too happy with my photography lately.  Maybe too much mucking about with different technologies and formats.  So in order to improve things, I’ve 1). been heavy browsing Flickr and adding to my favourites – seeing what I like, and what other’s produce.  I’m particularly impressed by the works of some Russians and East Europeans using medium format film for portraiture.  2) reading on portrait photography and light, from old photography books.  3). Reading up on the same using modern websites.

I can see some of my weaknesses.  I need to get in much closer.  I need to think more about background.  I need to think intelligently about light – not just exposure value.  So, rising out of bed this afternoon, with a few hours to spare before another shift for the Man, I thought I’d use a DSLR for some experimenting.  Now here is where I’m going to praise digital technology for once.

A DSLR is a fine learning tool, if only beginners were to read the damned manuals, and avoid all of those crappy automatic exposure programs.  A DSLR not only offers (for those that bother looking for them) full manual exposure and focusing controls, it offers fast results to gauge progress from.  Ok, with some of my film cameras, I get the reward of having to set up and judge everything – as I said in my last post, that gives my film photography more value; but, a digital camera with accessible full manual controls provides a good way of learning photography.  You can quickly evaluate your success and mistakes then move forward.  You can read the exif data of your images – a complete record of your technique.

My usual recommendation for beginners that want to get into photography these days is to buy a DSLR – a CHEAP DSLR though.  Not to worry about it’s bloody brand, or what DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHER magazine says about it’s lack of HD video or GPS.  Just buy a DSLR – used, pass down, last years stock, entry level, or whatever.  Don’t get sucked into the Nikon V Canon bullshit.  Any brand as long as you can still buy one or two decent lenses for it.  Use it as an educational tool, train with it, learn about light, exposure, composition, lines, subject, focus, dof, etc.  Just don’t use it as a point and shoot in an auto exposure program, with a kit lens fitted.  After a few years of learning technique, you can upgrade if you really feel the need to do so.

Getting back to today.  So I still have lots to learn, my photography has lots of room for improvement.  No time for digital, I grabbed my Sony DSLR, decided the 50mm prime lens was ok for my close up portraits.  Then I grabbed Nita, removed some of her clothes, and plonked her near the window light as I farted around with my one gold/silver reflector, aperture, exposure speed, ISO, and angle.  “Move this way, look that way”.  I can see that reflectors can be used, and I appreciate now how important it is to align the light with the subject.  Later on, I loaded the images into UFRAW.  Now, UFRaw may not be the software tool of everyone’s choice, but I am a fan of Open Source, and I’ve used it for years – originally on Linux operating systems.  Not only did I use it to correct some of my sloppy exposures, but I used Channel Mixer to generate monochrome .jpegs.  My favourite method of making digital b&w images.

So, there we go… Cheapskate digital b&w photography.

Tuesday Afternoon. As above.

Film Dark Room, Lubitel 166B, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens

Learning to Develop Part II

120 Negatives – Big Negatives! Drying. Taken with Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8 lens. Starring Nita.

I once read an old pre-digital treatise, that half of the reward of amateur photography lay in the darkroom.  I can see that now.  Maybe that should read that half of the enjoyment of modern b&w film photography still lays in the development.  It’s hard to explain in the digital age.  Not everyone would get it.  Nita’s nine year old tells me that she likes the cameras that show you the image instantly.  Instant gratification without much effort.  That’s the only failing of digital photography.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to give up the DSLRs.  It’s as I’ve said before, the salt n’ shake phenomena (potato crisps that you have to add salt to and shake yourself).  The more effort that you put into creating an image, the more rewarding it is.  That’s my attraction to film, but it doesn’t or shouldn’t degrade good digital photography.

So far, I’ve developed five 120 films.  I’ve had the pleasure of seeing five wet babes … sorry, developed negatives, swaying from pegs in our bathroom.  One tip for followers in my steps – keep a real ink and paper notebook, and keep recording and perfecting your method.  One of the reason’s I’ve not blogged, is that I’ve been using pen and paper to record my crappy efforts.

So far I’ve only used Ilford ID-11 as a developer.  I’ve developed two types of film – Ilford HP5 Plus 400, and also Foma Fomapan Classic 100.  I’m mean.  I dilute my developer stock to 1:3 stock/water.  This increases developing time.  For the Ilford HP5, 20 minutes at 20C; for the Fomapan 100, 13 minutes at 20C.  That can be a lot of  agitation, with 10 seconds within each minute.  Stopper for up to 100 seconds including agitation.  Fixer for between three and five minutes including agitation.I’ve also started to conserve my tight fisted credentials by re-using both Stop and Fix dilutions.  I’m aiming for between four and five uses per concentrate.

Tasks to complete from my developer diary?  1) develop 35mm b&w.  2) try microphen developer. 3) learn more about pushing and pulling.

Learning is so much fun.  Here is a photo that I took and developed:

Wisbech Moon Market. Lubitel 166B TLR camera. Ilford HP5 400 120 film. Developed in ID-11



Woot! Next Step – Chemicals arrived

Dead as a Badger. Poor Mr Brock. Olympus XA2 50p zone focus pocket camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film from Poundland.

TTV Lurcher. Taken with Sony A200 DSLR through the viewfinder of a Kodak Brownie Reflex 20 camera.

Developer chemicals arrived today.  Now all I need are some measuring jugs, a thermometer, and above all, some free time.  I’ve a roll of Ilford that I exposed in the Lubitel 166B ready for developing.  I’m very committed to lots of hours this month at work, so I really don’t get much time.  Still, once I’ve got everything together, and a bit of leisure time, then I will have my first crack at self-developing negative film – on 120 roll.  Meanwhile, I submit the above images for the blog.


Models and themed photoshoots, Portrait, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens, The East English Fens of East Anglia

Fields of Barley

Children of the Corn. Portrait of a girl in a barley field. Sony A200 DSLR camera. Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

In the Barley Field with Mum. Sony DSLR, as above photo.

The barley was so beautiful near to ours, that it had to be used for a piece of photography yesterday evening.


Models and themed photoshoots, Monochrome, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens, Witchcraft and Horror

Weird Fun with Anita

Down on the Farm, or Cracked. Sony ADSLR A200 camera. Sony AF DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens. Open source post process and b&w conversion with UFRaw and Gimp.

I think that  should categorise this one as Glamour?

Jessop Macro kit, Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens

Something New from the Car Boot Sale

Jessop macro kit – 2 x tele-converter and three extension tubes with Sony DSLR mount. Taken with the Sony DSLR-A200 and Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.

Well, not as ancient as my usual purchases at the car boot sale.  I bought something for one of my digital cameras at yesterday’s sale!  What are the chances of bumping into something with a modern Sony DSLR mount at a local car boot sale?  Pretty slim I’d say.  I don’t see much modern gear for Canon or Nikon at the local sale, never mind for Sony / Minolta.  My usual purchases are classic film cameras.  But yesterday, I did just that.  A Jessops macro-kit, consisting of a Jessop MC 2x Mx/AF tele-converter, and three Jessop M-Xi extension tubes – 31mm, 21mm, and 13mm.  All with a Sony / Minolta Alpha-mount!

The seller explained that he had bought them for his Canon, not understanding the difference in mount.  He said that he had seen similar sold on Ebay for £60.  Well, I’ve checked them out, and I’d guess Ebay price for the kit might go £40 – £80.  The Tele-converter is still listed new on the Jessop website at £80.  How much did I pay?  I knocked him down to £23 (well, £25 with two movie DVDs in the price) for the whole kit.  A wee bit more than I’d spend on vintage camera equipment, but a nice buy still I feel.

Using them behind the Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens?  Focus has to be manual – even with just the tele-converter (although it gives me the option now to use the 50mm prime as a 100mm MF prime when I need it.).  The auto focus just doesn’t find it’s target with the tele-converter behind the nifty fifty, despite claims to be AF.

With the extension tubes added, it turns the 50mm into a macro lens.  I’ve not had time yet, to experiment with different extensions or the tele-converter, nor using them with my 35mm prime lens.  D0F is incredibly shallow at macro with all tubes and tele-converter, making hard to focus anything but a flat surface (see the 20p coin below).  I’ll try for better results when I have better light and more interesting subjects, but for now I achieved the below results.

Test One. The Feather. Jessops 2x tele-converter plus all three extension tubes behind a Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM prime lens

The 20p UK coin. As above, tele-converter, three extension tubes, 50mm prime lens on the A200.

The Pencil tip. As above. 2x tele-converter, three extension tubes, 50mm prime lens.

I’ll play more when I get time.  As I stated above, the tele-converter alone can double the focal lengths of my prime lenses should I need that.  I want to try the kit with my 35mm prime, and to experiment with and without the tele converter and various tubes to see if I can improve that DoF with less magnification.  I also need good light!

I don’t think that macro photography is going to be me, it’s done far better by others with better gear, but it’s worth £23 to play with that option.

Sony DSLR A200 and Sony DT 50mm F/1.8mm SAM prime lens, Witchcraft and Horror

The End of the Road? Naaah!

The End of the road. Is this it for tight fisted photographer? Sony DSLR-A200 camera. Sony AF DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens. Free and open source UFRaw and Gimp 2.8 post process software.


Just been a bit busy lately.  I lost some money by bidding on a scanner to scan 120 film negatives.  That pissed me off a bit.  Been busy with real life.  Spent too much money.

Watched a zombie movie on Blue ray last night.  Influenced the above photo where I wanted Flint to look like he was eating my brains out.  Didn’t quite work.