Category: Opinion

Dodged That Ebay Bullet

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Ebay, I love it like a rich old guy loves his twenty-two year-old girlfriend. I spend lots of money on it  and have a great time doing it. Damn the consequences. Until the money runs out. When I come to my senses, and freeze the spending, Ebay will whisper sweet nothings in my ear via push notifications. “Item you looked at has been discounted!”. “Auction is ending in 10 minutes!” “You have been outbid!”- to be honest sometimes I’m not even sure what it was that I bid on in the first place.

This morning I dodged an Ebay bullet which would have amounted to about $250 smackaroos. It was a Kiev 88 medium format camera. This camera is a beautiful Russian copycat of a Hasselblad. I have always wanted a medium format camera in that style. There are four brands which produced similarly built cameras. Hasselblad, Mamiya, Bronica and Kiev. The quality is generally listed in that order as well. The Kiev though was the most financially attainable for me.

Bing! “An item similar to items you have viewed is ending in 10 minutes!” A Kiev in good working condition for less than $200. It only took as long as it takes to read that lovely little Ebay notice to convince myself that I truly needed it. With dollars to euros conversion and shipping it would be nearly $25

Like impulsively buying a candy bar at the checkout counter, I bid. Instantly, I felt dirty. I have bills to pay like everyone else. I have, kids, animals and a husband to feed. I need cash to support my film habit. I need cash to support my coffee habit. And worst of all, I have so many cameras and accoutrements that I have no more room to add to my collection. As a responsible adult, I failed.0.

I put my phone with that blighted Ebay app in the kitchen. I started a second pot of coffee, my guilt even blacker than the liquid in my cup. I went downstairs to fold laundry for the last 8 minutes of the auction before I had to pay the bill.

After what I had deemed about the right amount of time, I went back to my phone to see what exactly I owed.

First I read “You are no longer the highest bidder! Bid NOW!”

Then “Auction ends in one minute! Bid NOW!”

Followed by “That one got away from you!”

And lastly “Don’t worry, here are some similar items!”

I started to scroll through their suggestions. I found another Kiev 88 for a similar price. I thought about, I really did. I took a long swig of coffee. After plopping my phone down on the counter, I grabbed a camera and went outside to photograph my kid chasing chickens. Not today Ebay, not today.

Analog Glass on Digital Cameras

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Money. It can’t buy happiness. But it can buy camera lenses. And camera lenses are basically happiness. I mean, let’s face it, I’m writing a blog about photography, you’re reading a blog about photography. Pretty clear what makes us 

I have a lovely set of Olympus OM-D EM 5 micro 4/3 (m4/3) cameras. They are beautiful, durable, affordable and surprisingly diverse. And the best part is with the proper adapter, you can use old film lenses on them. Have old Nikon glass you loved in the days of film? Use it! Have a Canon lens you couldn’t part with? It will work! You can pick them up on Ebay for a little bit of nothing. I picked up a prime 135 Hanimex f/2.8 for $30.00. I shot one of my favorite photo series with that lens one night during an impromptu fire breathing session. None of my other lenses were fast enough. There certainly many pros to adapt analog lenses, but there are a few cons as well.happy right? I’m not rich. But I’m not unhappy either.

The Pros:

They are super affordable. You can buy fast lenses, f/2.8 or wider, for less than 

100.00 on Ebay or from online camera stores with reputable used departments. I recommend or They have excellent rating systems that will let you know 

what kind of condition the lens is in. That’s one heck of a deal considering that a m4/3 35-100 f/2.8 lens -used- is almost $800.00. I don’t have that kind of cash just laying around. And since most of my paying work is real estate, I can’t justify it.

If you are hybrid (film and digital) shooter like myself, you can switch between your film camera and your digital camera easily. You don’t have to buy multiples lenses for different systems.

The crop factor on a m4/3 camera is almost 2x the size of a 35mm camera. Meaning that a 50mm f/1.4 film lens is is going to be 100mm f/1.4 on a m4/3 camera. Again, if you are a decent bargain hunter you can come away with an amazing zoom lens.

The Cons:

Another downside is the crop factor. It is listed above because it favors someone looking for a telephoto lens. But utilizing a wide angle lenses is a bit of a problem. Your 16mm wide angle lens becomes a 32mm lens. Cutting the the field of view in half.These old analog lenses are all manual when connected to with an adapter. Manual focus, manual exposure. This can be cumbersome in a situation that require quick focus or quick thinking. There is no way to let the camera do the thinking for you. However, could be considered a silver lining to some. New shooters who are trying to learn shooting manual on a digital camera will have no choice with lenses. Much like learning to do math before reaching for a calculator.

Adapters can be a bit of a hassle unless you have multiples. I have several Nikkor adapters which I keep on my favorite film lenses. But if you only have one adapter, hunting for it to switch lenses on the fly might mean the shot you wanted slipped by. But adapters are $10-$25, so for very little you can circumvent this problem entirely.

There are many different sources that argue for and against the use of analog lenses on digital cameras. If you shoot on a professional basis you should look into investing in digital lenses, in the long run, it will save you time, which is money. But for a hobbyist in search of a cost effective means to produce creamy bokeh or a fast nighttime lens have a look at some old glass. If its well cared for, the images produced in many situations will be better than the cheaper digital lenses in the same price range.

Mobile Photography: Rising Star Medium or Mediocre Cop-Out?

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Mobile photography is loosely defined as any photography created with a mobile device other than a camera, i.e smartphone, tablet, etc. Since 2007, when the first iPhone was available with a two megapixel camera, mobile photography began evolving. And that’s when the debate started about whether or not it was an actual artistic medium or a ridiculous cop-out.

In the early days it was pretty easy to tell which images had been created with an honest-to-god camera and which images had been captured using a mobile device. Now, with improvements in technology, the cameras found onboard mobile devices are incredibly high quality. Often producing better images than DSLRs from five years ago.

So is it just the technological advances that have created a medium and a population of mediocre photographers? No, I think not. If you put a $35,000 Hasselblad in the hands of a snapshot shooter, you will get an incredibly expensive snapshot. Now if you put an eight megapixel smartphone camera in the hands of a photographer the image produced will be something worth talking about. It’s all about who is looking through the lens.

How many of you have had this conversation and cringed?
“Wow you take really good photos, your camera must be really nice.”
“Actually I took it with my phone.”
“Oh, well my phone pictures never look that good, it must be a really good phone…”

I usually have to steer the conversation elsewhere at that point. Sure, mobile devices make it easier to shoot more photos, but they won’t improve the quality of the image, composition, light, or angle. The upside is, you will almost always have a camera with you, so photographic regret (not having a camera when you really needed it) is basically a thing of the past.

Like everything else, change brings debate. The old hangers-on versus those embracing the new. This is not unlike the debate that raged in the early 2000s when photographers were making the change from film to digital. And before that, from black and white to color. Or even from radio to television as the top form of home entertainment.

The truth is, no mobile device is going to be able to tell you that the scene unfolding in front of you is an amazing one. It can’t tell you how to frame up your shot, it can’t decided for you how to hold your camera or how to see light and shadows. The only thing it can do is expedite adjusting the settings on the camera. And that is no different than shooting in auto on your great big DSLR.

In general, I think that the best camera is the one you have with you when you need it. Your phone is usually your everyday shooter. Can mobile photography do all the things a DSLR can do? Nope. But for most things when saying “let me go get my camera” isn’t feasible. Your phone is your camera’s pinch hitter.

Is it photography format? Yes, in my opinion. Like digital, medium format or 35mm. Is it a niche? Yep. Just like Holga photography and Polaroid photography, which have developed a loyal fan base. Mobile photography is here to stay, and while it may not be for some people, neither was color photography when it first became available.