Eric Praetzel - My 35mm Cameras
As of July 2000 I am using a HP S20 slide / negative scanner to scan the slides and negatives of my vacation at 1200 dpi. I've not found 2400 dpi to be worth it. ie the files are 4x larger and there is very little noticable difference. It would be useful for printing but not viewing.
In comparison to my 35mm Pentax I can say that the Kodak LS 443 definately
gives pictures in better focus (nature scenes at infinity) than my 28mm lens
on the Pentax.
As of August 2005 I now have a refurbished Kodak DX7440 4MP DigiCam as a
replacement for my crappy LS443 which suffered it's 3rd major failure in 2 years and
was no longer being repaired by Kodak.
I've taken about 200 pictures with the camera and it's a vast improvement over
the LS443 - I'd say that it's about "average". I will not trust it unless it manages
to work without a failure for 2 years. Some of the controls are a nice improvement
over the LS443 and some are a step backwards (zoom). The flash appears to work fairly
well as opposed to being horrible.
I have a Kodak LS433 4MP DigiCam and I would not recommend it. It's ok, but
the picture quality is not sharp, the auto-light detector (for types of lighting) drives
me insane and the flash over-powers images far too often. It turns on when it's
in your pocket and I've seen too many out of focus pictures - even in landscape
mode! The camera doesn't tell you the f-stop or shutter speed and blury pictures
have often resulted from not knowing it was at a slow shutter speed. In
comparison Cannon cameras embed such info in the JPEG comments. It's ok and
I have no experience with other cameras (directly) but I would not buy this camera
again! I have the wide angle lens attachment and it's quality is worth what you
pay for it (aprox $100) - it's not as good as what you're expecting and a pain to
put on and take off and carry the camera with when it's on.
Note: This camera takes out of focus pictures when in Landscape mode
on bright days when fully zoomed. For some reason when the aperature stops
down fully - the pictures become blurry. They never addressed the problem
or responded to my reporting it
I would recommend a Cannon Powershoot G2/G3 or S45. Friends have also been
very happy with their Fuji cameras.
In July 2005 the camera died again and Kodak no longer repairs it. They
offered an upgrade to a "refurbished" DX7440 for $125. That camera is reputed
to have shorter battery life and all of the image quality problems.
In July 2004 Kodak repaired the LS443 1 month after the warranty expired
(but it was done under warranty). They did not fix the problem with the
camera resetting and deleting pictures, but the shutter and lens mechanism
was repaired and the main on/off/mode switch was replaced with on that was
lower profile and stiffer so that the camera is less likely to turn on
in a pocket.
end of the 12 month warranty the camera started to blank 1/2 of the screen
and do a power-up reset while taking pictures - typically when I got to the
20th to 40th picture. In so doing it would wipe out the last 10 to 20
pictures and leave the memory card corrupted. About a month after that
(1 month after the camera warranty expired) the CCD sensor went dead. Kodak
has said that they'll repair the camera under warranty if the camera shows
no signs of abuse. I can't believe that the first problem is due to a
faulty memory card - it should not cause a reset and corruption of pictures
on the memory card.
I now have a digital camera (Kodak LS433 with wide angle lens) and I don't like the colors
(they are too saturated - blues and greens) but generally it's an ok camera and you get
what you pay for (if you have money to blow get an SLR digital or Cannon G2/G3).
A while ago I decided to do some tests with
color negative film
XRays and Photographic Film
I have not had any problems at airports and film. But I only use 100 ASA or 200 ASA in rare cases and I've
had both exposed and un-exposed film xrayed as carry-on baggage. In a few special cases I have managed to
get a hand inspection and so avoid the xray exposure. Film is a chemical medium and it is best to avoid
any light, xray and heat exposure that you can.
Kodak Info about Xrays
Kodak Tech. Bulletin - Xray Scanning effects on film
My biased summary of this - your film WILL be dammaged if x-rayed with the
checked baggage and slight dammage will result from hand baggage x-ray equpiment!
Air Transport Security Authorities
Info from Glasgow airport
I recieved a pamplet at Glasgow since they would not hand inspect my film. The pamplet states that:
- ISO 400 ASA are "visually unaffected" when exposed to x-rays 8 times while very low ASA films can handle 32 exposures
- If films are exposed more than this "the nature of the change occurring is barely noticable to the naked eye and does not become visible until film is exposed around 32 times".
Film is a chemical marvel. Thru layers of dies and/or light sensitive crystals you can record color or
B/W pictures. Film is exceedingly sensitive once it has been exposed to light. You should process the
film as quickly as possible and keep it cool. You should definately avoid X-ray equipment!
Different film speeds and different film formulations have different sensitivies to light. Some films will
be more sensitive to certain colors [visible or not!]. For example UV light tends to wash out film and special
films are sensitive in the infrared spectrum. Different films have a different contrast; that is they
expand or compress the contrast range [the slope of the curve of their density vs exposure]. This is generally
a subtle point but that is why 1000 ASA film looks different than 100 ASA film. Not only is the grain size
different; but so is the contrast.
All films should be kept cool to slow the deterioration of the films. The different colors degrade at
different rates and that is why unexposed films go reddish when they get old. Storing film (and batteries)
in a fridge is the best thing that you can do. For long term storage you can use a freezer; but the film
must be given time to warm up and for condensation to evaporate. Film will last for many years past the
best before date when it is stored in a refrigerator.
I used to use only 100 ASA slide film; Kodachrome, Ektachrome and Seattle Filmworks Chrome. Slide, or positive,
film expands the contrast of pictures. As a result it is much more sensitive to the exposure settings and is
unable to capture a wide contast range. However, it does make for excellent, bright, pictures for projectors.
Getting pictures from slide film is possible via a special type of printing paper but I've had problems getting
consistant color saturation. When I started taking pictures in caves I switched to negative film to get a
wider contrast range and more latitude for incorrect exposures.
I mention inter-negatives because this is how you make "negatives" out of slide film. Basically you take a
special, low contrast, negative film and put it back-to-back with slide film. Seattle Filmworks does this
cheaply and that is the primary reason why I used their film services for a decade.
However, typically the inter-negative has a sharper contrast and details are lost in the extreams (dark and light).
I only use 100 ASA negative film for outdoor pictures. When desperate I use 200 ASA and I've only resorted to
faster films for indoor wedding and astronomy photography.
Negative film has a flatter contrast than slide film. The slower the film the small the grain. For 35mm films:
APS films are smaller in size and so the quality is slightly worse. The quality is directly related to the
size of the negatives. If you use 110 or 210 film (6cm square negatives) then you will have even higher quality.
- 100 ASA - grain becomes visible on 8" x 10" prints
- 200 ASA - grain becomes visible on 5" x 7" prints
- 400 ASA - grain becomes visible on 4" x 6" prints
- 800 ASA - grain clearly visible on 4" x 6" prints
You can shoot 200 ASA negative film withe the camera set at 100 or 400 ASA and barely tell the difference.
Slide film would be noticably light
and washed out. As a general rule, over-exposing film is better than underexposing. Underexposing will reveal
the grain while overexposing will reduce the grain. Colors will change the more you underexpose the film.
One of the important parts of the arcane art of printing film is the paper. Paper is available in a
variety of contrasts. Some papers will reduce or expand the contrast. Typical film printers will only
stock medium contrast papers. If you want to properly print wedding pictures with both detail in black suits
and white lace on white dresses; then you need to reduce the contrast by the proper selection of film and
I have rarely ever been pleased with the quality of printed pictures. The colors are rarely consistant.
That is why I only scan the negatives. I don't care what the print shop does with my prints; as long as
they properly develope the negatives for me! Sadly, one expensive local shop has dropped my film into
boiling water and their developing & printing machine scratched an entire roll of negatives.
Yes I'm going to get one; when they get certain features I need [long exposures, ease of use, high resolution,
low power consumption, storage of a large number of pictures, good lens selection and
a reasonable price]. Digital cameras are not the same as shooting film. Ansel Adams once said something like this
"Taking a picture is like writing a music score but printing it is like hearing the music performed". Basically,
taking pictures and printing is an art. Digital photography removes that. However, digital photography can
be cheap, fast and of reasonable quality.
Here is a brief history of what cameras I've been using on vacations. To date I've met one person who had
a 6 x 9 camera. That means that he was shooting negatives that were 6cm x 9 cm; about 2.5" x 3.5"!!
- 1979-1991 - fully automatic generic 35 mm with 50 mm lens
- 1991 - California vacation
- light meter failed on generic 35 mm, 2 rolls of film lost
- bought 35 mm semi-auto Chinon body, 28-200 lens - lens was set to automatic, camera body did not support it - all film shot at F22 and severly underexposed
- 1993 - Europe Trip
- 2 rolls of Kodachrome had a funny color cast after developing
- Chinon body recieved small crack
- 1994 - West coast trip
- Pentax MEF had intermittant problem with exposure compensation right [also happened with a different ME later]
- 1998 - West coast trip - Chinon body was leaking light due to the back opening up slightly
- 1999 - Pentax ME advanced film incorrectly and had intermittant contact on exposure copmensation ring resulting in severe under-exposure
- 2000 - one roll of SFW film poped open [14 frames lost], 2 rolls over-exposed due to setting camera to incorrect ASA setting [this turned out to be not a bad thing - overexposure is by upto 3 or 4 stops is not bad]
I lover polarizing filters. They remove glare and indirect light, often restoring blue and green colors
that are washed out. They only work well when the camera is at right angles to the sun. Often this means
that you have a blue-fade in the sky with the polarizer working very well at right angles and less so for
scenery that is closer to the sun. One problem is using the polarizer too much and turning the sky or
water to a jet black color. This is clearly visible in some of my Northern Italy pictures
Comments on Film Exposure
Here is what a professional photographer friend told me about over-exposing standard
negative film (C41):
The ISO number, according to Techno-babble, indicates the 'minimal useable
gradient', in English, the minimum exposure needed for an acceptable
If you actually are silly enough to actually USE that number, you deserve
the underexposed shadows (weak blacks, brown actually) you'll get (reason
being that the shadows are placed on the toe of the curve, giving in other
words an opacity increase which is subproportional to the exposure given...
so, the photo paper doesn't get enough exposure whilst printing, hence muddy
All c-41 films should be exposed at half to 1/4 of the ISO number: grain is
finer, tonality much superior.... your average 200 films have a useful range
of 12 to 14 f stops, all on the straight line (opacity proportional to
exposure) With long scale scenes, I put the highlights on the shoulder of
the curve, so they tend to compress themselves and don't block up.
Everything below that prints normally.
Film information is on the Kodak web site at:
Color Negativ Films
There is very little difference between 'pro' and 'not pro' regarding
charecteristic curve.. here is
a fairly typical curve
A wonderful family of color negative films are the
Kodak Supra line
They are designed for 'imaging professionals' who will be SCANNING the film...
extended range (impossible to overexpose, or 'over-scale' the picture, also
'overcoated' to minimze handling scratches.
On grain. I was getting great results in the mid '80s shooting pro soccer on
1000 speed color neg. I made grainless 16 x 20s. Here's how:
This is chromagenic film: the silver is bleached out during processing, after
clouds of dye are formed about each silver image grain. If one gives more
exposure, more dye clouds are formed, overlapping, and eliminating the clear
parts of the negs. More exposure, therefore, less grain. Exactly the opposite oftraditional photography.
If a c-41 picture is grainy, its not the film, its been UNDEREXPOSED.
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