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Friday, September 28, 2012

The Harvest Shot

Round 2 of testing my "new" Mamiya RB 67 SD.  My RB 67 SD body arrived several days ago so I figured it was time to put it through its paces.  In my last post, I outlined the jamming problem with my Pro S body and how it ruined my first shoot with the camera, but I was determined to not let that stop me, so I decided this time to setup a still life of harvest/fall type items.  At least this time I wouldn't drive at the crack of dawn to a waterfall and have it fail!

First let me just say that the shoot went very well. I set up some typical gourds, apples and Indian corn so I could test the lens and the mirror lock feature to its fullest.  For a lens I used the Mamiya 65mm Sekor C.  The shutter seemed accurate, the mirror lock worked, and the focus knobs were very smooth.  Anyway just a quick follow up until I actually get the film back from the lab.  Below is one of the compositions I created.


Most of the shots had a shutter speed of 1 second and I bracketed between f16 and f32.  I used a single 250 watt photo flood for illumination and a fill card to fill in some of the shadow.  The specular highlights seemed a bit hot so maybe next time I will add another sheet of parchment paper to make the diffusion a bit stronger.  Film was Fuji Acros 100 black and white.  I have never used this film so I am curious to see how it does.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My First Setback with the Mamiya RB 67 PRO S

Only a week ago I was singing the praises of the Mamiya RB 67 PRO-S, but that praise was cut short today by a total equipment failure.  Let me begin by saying that about three weeks ago I pieced together what I thought was a nice medium format system.  I bought an RB67 PRO-S body, backs, prism and two lenses from Keh camera. The system  looked clean and ready to take on the toughest photo assignment I could throw at it.

 At the top of my to-do list was the need to test the camera as quickly as I possibly can so I headed out to a nearby waterfall which was easy to access from the roadway.  I left for the falls about 5:15 am so as not to miss the nice morning light and longer shutter speeds this time provides.

I arrived at about 6:30am and got everything setup for my first shot.  The camera body was cocked,  mirror up knob rotated, removed the dark slide, placed my release into the side of the lens and fired the main shutter.  The mirror locked up as I expected.  So far so good, I thought to myself.  I was now ready to make my exposure.  "Click", the shutter fired or so I thought.  I released the cable release and re-cocked the camera.  The cocking lever stopped most of the way forward and it would not cock the shutter or return to its original position.  My heart sank as the light was now perfect for the exposure, but the lever would not release.  No matter what I did the camera would not cock and the lens was jammed on.  It was a total equipment failure and actually the first one I had had after many years of photography.

Disgusted and totally defeated by the camera, I headed to work.  I sat at my desk with a worthless hunk of junk sitting in front of me.  A quick search online showed that this camera was indeed subject to this type of jamming and the only solution was to push a safety pin into a hidden hole located on the front of the body to release the lens.  I finally was able to do this and release the lens but the body was a total loss.  It is totally junk.

So I am sending the body back to Keh for replacement or money back and I ordered a new PRO-SD body, hoping they might have fixed this fault in the latest manual iteration of the design by Mamiya.  I am still not convinced that the body failed at all.  It might have been the lens that caused the issues.  I did notice another problem with the body though.  The red guides in the body do not come down when I rotate the adapter to horizontal.

Stay tuned, I will keep you posted on the next trip to the waterfall and hopefully I will have some transparencies to show with the new RB body.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Truth About Working Out

Every once in a while I have a kind of health heart to heart conversation with myself.  You know the kind of I am talking about.  The kind where you are looking in the mirror and notice that the love handles are slightly more than handles now.  The kind where you find it more of a challenge to turn around in the car to look behind you when backing up.  The kind where bending over to tie your shoes leaves you short of breath.  Well I could go on and on but I know you get the idea.

Inevitably the conclusion you come to after this one on one conversation is that you are just plain fat.  Immediately you begin to think about all those diets in your not so healthy history where you would lose twenty pounds only to put back on thirty.  So about a month ago I began a new angle on this whole fat loss problem.  So I started this journey by asking myself two crucial questions.

1.  Why is that I am fat?  The conclusion I reached is because I don't do anything and on top of that I pretty much eat what I want to.  It really seems quite simple when I put it like that but that is exactly in my mind what the problem is.

2.  What will it take to loose the fat?  Well certainly not by diets alone as this does not solve my health issues and only make me want more and more food.  Essentially you starve your body until it hits bottom and you go berserk on some cannolies.

I am sure everyone who has ever been overweight has asked themselves these questions in  the past but it is the second question that is the real "stump-er."  So I want to address what I am doing in response to #2.

The biggest change for me is joining the YMCA and using their Fitlinxx system.  For those not familiar with Fitlinxx, it is a computer based workout program that tracks calories burned, strength training  and overall cardiovascular fitness levels.  These categories when calculated together end up giving you fitpoints which give you an overall rating of your progress.  http://www.fitlinxx.net/



Cybex Chest Press - Can be used in the Fitlinxx system

So after a month of training it is giving me more strength and is meeting my fitness goals, but it does this in a way which is appealing to me.  The reallity is that it appeals to my sense of competition.  You see with Fitlinxx, not only do you compete with yourself, but you also compete against the entire YMCA branch.  Each month, the YMCA posts the top 15 males and females in strength, calories burned and total fitpoints.  This is a great way to keep yourself motivated.

The second part of the Fitlinxx health program is the equipment itself.  For example, strength training uses Cybex machines which the member utilizes in a circuit to target about every major muscle group in the body. This workout alone can be quite brutal.  Add to that a daily cardio workout such as speed walking, cycling or running and you are talking about a quality workout indeed.

Although Fitlinxx is a powerful system, I cannot simply ignore my diet.  I have chosen to go with a high protein diet mixed with fruit and veggies.  This combination gives me adequate energy and good muscle building.

In conclusion, I don't know if this will completely work for me. Only time will tell.  I have lost about 12lbs and have a great deal more strength so I do know that it works.  Now it is up to me to make it last.

  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mamiya RB67 Pro - Early Impressions

I now have in my possession a Mamiya RB67 Pro S which I recently purchased from Keh Camera.  First, let me begin by saying that when I was entering the profession of photography back in the 90s these cameras were untouchable for the average, just out of college photographer, but due to the recent onslaught of digital cameras, these babies are being sold off by pros looking for the digital edge.

All of this is of course is good news for those like me who can buy a complete setup for under $200 bucks. That's right, this once untouchable camera is now a relic and can easily be obtained on eBay or Keh.  I have been like a giddy child at Christmas for a week now as the new parts to my camera system are delivered one by one.  To add to my excitement, film is also still readily produced for these cameras by companies like Fuji, Rollei and Ilford.  Fuji even makes a instant film for using the RB's Polaroid back.

OK, so on with my impressions.  The body for this camera is very sturdy and completely manual.  No need for silly batteries that always go dead on you anyway.  Perhaps one of the greatest features of the body is the  standard bellows which are attached to the focusing knobs.  This bellows unit instantly turns any lens into a macro lens.  No real need to buy expensive macro lenses. Next, attached directly behind the body is the rotating back hence the designation "RB."  This device is pure genius.  Simply rotate the back to either horizontal or vertical compositions and leave the body exactly as it is.  Finally, Viewfinders and prisms come in a variety of styles and are easily attached to the top of the body. Rotating the back also changes the marks in the viewfinder so one can better see how to compose the image.

The last piece to this photographic puzzle is the lens.  First, Mamiya lenses are known for being tack sharp. Secondly, the lens contains a leaf shutter mechanism so flash syncing can be done at any speed. The lens also contains the pc flash input and a place to attach a cable release.  Finally, the lens also has a button for mirror up photography.  Simply move the button to the mirror up position and those mirror slapped, blurry images will be a thing of the past.

The bottom line here is this camera has every pro feature you could ever want or need at ridiculously low pricing right now. So go out there and buy a old medium format camera and have a blast.