all the cameras I’ve ever owned

In approximate chronological order:

  • Kodak A-1 — got for Christmas or birthday when I was about 8, probably after being insufferable that my sister had a spiffy little Voigtländer Vitoret. Took 110 film and those awful flash strips. Was disappointed when wildlife photos taken with it (fixed focus, fixed aperture, fixed shutter speed) didn’t work too well. Those tiny brown things were supposed to be sparrows, dammit!
  • Panasonic AF thing — I don’t actually remember having a camera through my teens, and I think I got this just before going to Japan. I took hundreds of pictures with it, but barely remember anything about it.
  • Pentax MX — my first serious camera, and one I really regret getting rid of when I discovered the realities of Negative Cash Flow when I moved to Glasgow G1 in the mid-1990s. I had three lenses; 28mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, and 135mm f/3.5. A very small SLR, it worked a charm; except, that is after coming back from Fair Isle when the salt jammed the innards. It was fine after a CLA.
  • Lubitel 166Jessop’s were selling these for £19. It acquainted me with the dreadful packaging and unique smell of Eastern Bloc photographic equipment. It also introduced me to squinty focussing and rampant vignetting that this camera is well known for. Sold on eBay before we left Scotland for about fifty quid; miracles will seldom (if ever) cease.
  • Minox 35GT — lovely, tiny, but too delicate for my ham-hands and careless ways. Bought on the recommendation of my sister’s then-fiancé. Managed to crack the top plate and focus ring; oops.
  • FED 5B — Think I got this early ’93; a spectacularly shoddy Leica-clone rangefinder. I’d heard about eastern camera copies whilst on Fair Isle, and tracked down someone in Russia on rec.photo who’d sell me one for £50. I sent off my cash in late 1992, and heard nothing for months. I really thought I’d been scammed, and gave up the money for lost. Months later, a small box arrived; it was the FED box with my address written on the back, still sealed. No wrapping. Manual in Русский (or perhaps Українська; my script-fu has never been strong). It worked fine for one film, then the focal plane synch went south. Managed to get it repaired in a magical old-time repair shop just off George Square (Peterson’s?) run by an ancient camera-wizard with a heavy European accent. In true magical ways, the store was gone the next time I looked for it. Sold on ebay for a derisory £20.
  • Fujifilm DX-5 — my first digital camera! All of 640×480 resolution, too! Wasn’t quite state of the art by the time I bought it, but cheap things from Morgan’s seldom are.
  • Yashica T5 — I probably most regret selling this of any camera. Tack-sharp and contrasty Zeiss Tessar T* lens; nifty waist-level finder. Only a so-so AF system, but very small and solid, like a budget Contax. Sold before moving to Canada. These have subsequently rocketed up in price, so my casual interest in them doesn’t warrant buying one.
  • Fujifilm MX-1200 — 1.3 megapixel; w00t! I still actually have this, and it amazes me how nifty I thought this was when I see how clunky and slow it feels now. Bought from Morgan in Brum; I seem to remember actually walking from Cobuild’s office to the store to get it.
  • Voigtländer Bessa-R— of all the cameras I’ve ever owned, I think I’ve had the most lenses for this one. Was a bit sad to see it go (trade-in for the D70), but I took many (good?) photos with it. The lenses I owned (not all at once) were:
    • Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/3.5 — a lens so good I kept it after selling the body.
    • Snapshot-Skopar 25mm f/4 — never got the hang of this one. Sold it very soon after getting it with the camera.
    • “Pancake” Color-Skopar 35mm f/2.5
    • Ultron Aspherical 35mm f/1.7.
    • Nokton 50mm f/1.5
    • Color-Heliar 75mm f/2.5
    • APO Lanthar 90mm f/3.5
  • Yashica-Mat — an eBay purchase from a market trader in Hemel Hempstead. Was a bit beat up, and had the wrong size of case, and occasionally misfired, but a pleasantly solid unit. Took some early photos in Canada with it, but it mostly sat around. Discovered, on trading in in 2004, that the taking lens was a spider-web of fungus.
  • Yashica Electro 35GT — nice lens, and can meter down to almost nothing. Auto-exposure only, and handles flair, um, creatively. Really quiet shutter, but (on mine at least) the meter circuitry made a weird groaning noise. I used a Yashica Guy battery; you might want to too.
  • Voigtländer Vitoret 110EL — I actually had two of these. One was very beat-up, while the other was absolutely mint, complete with flash. It’s a shame that 110 film was almost dead by the time I got this, as it was an ultra-stealth camera and had great metering.
  • Olympus mju/Stylus Infiniti — I was carrying my Bessa-R everywhere wrapped in (what I thought was) an adequately-padded hat when I discovered that the rigours of the TTC had induced a ding in the top plate. Immediately rushed out to buy a 35mm compact that I wouldn’t cry over if it broke. The mju was my carry-about camera for years (even after I went digital). I think I still have an unprocessed film from it. Traded in mid-2004 as a (tiny) part of the D70.
  • Nikon CoolPix 2500 — first digital camera in Canada. Bought when I worked across the road from Black’s HQ in Markham, so got it at one of their tent sales. Not a bad wee camera, but a little slow so you sometimes missed a shot or photographed your feet.
  • Zero Image 2000 — beautiful wooden pinhole camera which I bought from Karen Nakamura. She’s too kind about some of the imagery I’ve made with it. It’ll get a good workout on the 29th of this month.
  • Pentacon six TL — a huge brick of a camera, but the lens was unspectacular, and the innards too fragile. Partly traded-in for the D70. I still have my info page on the Pentacon six TL.
  • Voigtländer Bessa-L — I never actually used this. I bought it from Stephen Gandy to use with the 15mm Super Wide Heliar (along with a Kaidan pano head), and sold it on eBay.
  • Zorki — an eBay purchase, but there was a spool missing. The guys at russianplaza refunded me without question.
  • Nikon D70 — you don’t want to know how much I paid for this, but I have had it since summer 2004 and had great use from it.
  • Sony Cybershot P100 — this was my first (and probably only) peacock-blue camera. Henry’s had this for $200 less than the silver model.
  • ThreeEyeFish digital minicam — makes a Lomo look like a Leica.
  • Panasonic Lumix LX2 — what a lovely looking camera! Shame about the operation …

GO Transit, you suck!

I discovered last week that GO don’t have a central announcement system. That means that unstaffed stations like Kennedy and Exhibition always leave their passengers in the dark. Plus, the e-mail announcement system only alerts you if the train is more than 30 minutes late. I think by that time I would have gone home.

No sign of that train yet …

fauxlomo

Portpatrick, with the Gimp faux lomo effect
Portpatrick, taken with a Fujifilm MX-1200 pretending to be a lomo

For probably no better reason beyond babbittry, I’ve always half-wanted a lomo. Half-wanted, that is, because of my previous experience with “Russian” photo gear (I’ve had a Lomo TLR, a Fed rangefinder, and a Pentacon six) and its legendary quality control. I’m also so done with film.
A while back, Donncha wrote about a  GIMP Lomo Plugin. While it looked handy, the link to the code is now dead. You can find what I think is the same one here: http://flelay.free.fr/pool/lomo2.scm (or a local copy here if that link dies: lomo2.scm). Just pop it in your .gimp-2.2/scripts/ directory, and it’ll appear as a filter. The original author‘s comment on Donncha’s blog contains good settings: Vignetting softness=1, Contrast=30, Saturation=30, Double Vignetting=TRUE.

I knew there was a reason I retrieved my old 1.3 megapixel Fujifilm MX-1200 from my parents’ house. And that reason is fauxlomo!

All the printers I’ve ever owned …

bird you can see: hp print test

  • An ancient (even in 1985) Centronics serial dot-matrix printer that we never got working with the CPC464. The print head was driven along a rack, and when it hit the right margin, an idler gear was wedged in place, forcing the carriage to return. Crude, noisy but effective.
  • Amstrad DMP-2000. Plasticky but remarkably good 9-pin printer. Had an open-loop ribbon that we used to re-ink with thick oily endorsing ink until the ribbons wore through.
  • NEC Pinwriter P20. A potentially lovely 24-pin printer ruined by a design flaw. Print head pins would get caught in the ribbon, and snap off. It didn’t help that the dealer that sold it to me wouldn’t refund my money, and required gentle persuasion from a lawyer to do so.
  • Kodak-Diconix 300 inkjet printer. I got this to review for Amiga Computing, and the dealer never wanted it back. It used HP ThinkJet print gear which used tiny cartridges that sucked ink like no tomorrow; you could hear the droplets hit the page.
  • HP DeskJet 500. I got this for my MSc thesis. Approximately the shape of Torness nuclear power station (and only slightly smaller), last I heard it was still running.
  • Canon BJ 200. A little mono inkjet printer that ran to 360dpi, or 720 if you had all the time in the world and an unlimited ink budget.
  • Epson Stylus Colour. My first colour printer. It definitely couldn’t print photos very well.
  • HP LaserJet II. Big, heavy, slow, and crackling with ozone, this was retired from Glasgow University. Made the lights dim when it started to print. Came with a clone PostScript cartridge that turned it into the world’s second-slowest PS printer. We did all our Canadian visa paperwork on it.
  • Epson Stylus C80. This one could print photos tolerably well, but the cartridges dried out quickly, runing the quality and making it expensive to run.
  • Okidata OL-410e PS. The world’s slowest PostScript printer. Sold by someone on tortech who should’ve known better (and bought by someone who also should’ve known better), this printer jams on every sheet fed into it due to a damaged paper path. Unusually, it uses an LED imaging system instead of laser xerography, and has a weird open-hopper toner system that makes transporting a part-used print cartridge a hazard.
  • HP LaserJet 4M Plus. With its duplexer and extra paper tray it’s huge and heavy, but it still produces crisp pages after nearly 1,000,000 page impressions. I actually have two of these; one was bought for $99 refurbished, and the other (which doesn’t print nearly so well) was got on eBay for $45, including duplexer and 500-sheet tray. Combining the two (and judiciously adding a bunch of RAM) has given me a monster network printer which lets you know it’s running by dimming the lights from here to Etobicoke.
  • IBM Wheelwriter typewriter/ daisywheel printer. I’ve only ever produced a couple of pages on this, but this is the ultimate letter-quality printer. It also sounds like someone slowly machine-gunning the neighbourhood, so mostly lives under wraps.
  • HP PhotoSmart C5180. It’s a network photo printer/scanner that I bought yesterday. Really does print indistinguishably from photos, and prints direct from memory cards. When first installed, makes an amusing array of howls, boinks, squeals, beeps and sproings as it primes the print heads.

clicking loaches!

Our little clown loaches were clicking like crazy after I fed them tonight. It sounds like tapping a tiny pebble against the glass. It was only today that I discovered where the noise was coming from!

ants! Ants!! ANTS!!!

We were somewhat troubled by ants last night, but they lapped up that borax, and we don’t see them any more. It’s kind of a sick little monkey way of killing them; feed them something sweet that, when fed to their leader, kills their society.

a wee corner of Scotland at Ellesmere & McCowan

Serendipity: took a wrong turn coming out of the
federal building, and found ourselves in Scottish culinary heaven (which is not an oxymoron, I assure you). At the corner of Ellesmere & McCowan is The But ‘n’ Ben Butchers; they sell all sort of quality Scottish foods. So far, we’ve sampled and can approve their butcher’s pies, plain bread and empire biscuits. They’ve also got a supply of UK Heinz Beans, which knock the gummy North American beans into a cocked hat.
Next door but one is St Andrews Fish & Chips. They’re amazing. I think the chips (hand cut, of course) are deep fried in some unhealthy, but tasty, animal byproduct. And they have Irn Bru, too …

well, that was easy, maybe

Just did my citizenship test. 20 questions, two of which you must get right, three of which you must get at least one right, and fifteen non-mandatory questions. Pass mark is 12/20.

Seemed not very difficult, either:— who was the first prime minister, who can vote, when was the Charter introduced, when did Newfoundland & Labrador join the Confederacy, when did Nunavut become a territory; that sort of thing. To think I spent all that time worrying about natural resources, the third line of O Canada! and Lieutenant Governors (sings: Bartleman, Bartleman, Does everything a … hey, wait a minute, just what can a bartle do, anyway?).

It did dismay and astonish me how badly prepared some people were. About 5 out of the 40 people didn’t turn up, and maybe 10 people didn’t have the requisite papers. C’mon people, don’t you want to be Canadian?