Half a Mind?

Back in July, and again in September of last year, I told you about Behringer's Deepmind 12 analog synthesizer. As exciting as that instrument is, and as much as I'd like to have something that resembles the old Sequential Prophet 600 I owned many years ago, the Deepmind 12 is just a touch to rich for my blood.

Behringer Deepmind 6 six-voice analog synth.

Today, however, I've learned of the Deepmind 12's new little brother, the Deepmind 6. It's kind of like having half a mind, in that it has 6 voices to the original's 12 voice architecture. Otherwise, it's nearly identically spec'd. The only other feature missing is WiFi.

Sequential Circuits Prophet 600

Like my old Prophet, it's a 3-octave analog keyboard with patch memory. The Behringer also adds four effects engines and an aftertouch keyboard, which my old Prophet lacked. Selling at about $700, it's about the same price as I paid for a used Prophet 600 ... back in about 1990.

According to Pete and Rob from Midas, it's in production now, so delivery is imminent. Looks like it may be time to get serious about selling off some unused keyboard gear....

Yeah, there's also a keyless version of the Deepmind 12, but I'm one of those guys who really doesn't want a synth without a keyboard.

Thanks to hispasonic.com and sonicstate.com for the images and video.

Lab-Box Daylight Film Processor

Most of my recent posts have been about film photography, which is kind of strange for a guy who, a few years ago, said he didn't miss film at all. Turns out, there's still something magical about film and processing, and not just for me. Film photography is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance lately, and there are several film manufacturers who are reintroducing old film stocks, or ramping up production on current stocks.

Of course, this means that support for film is on the rise, too, and this opens doors for entrepreneurs the world over. I came across the Lab-Box daylight film processor a couple of days ago, and it's really an intriguing device -- or rather, will be. Lab-Box is a kickstarter campaign by Italy's ars-imago, a shop/company located in Rome, dedicated to analog photography.

Here's a short video that shows how it works:

If you're interested in learning more, visit the kickstarter campaign. They've far exceeded their goal, raising almost five times the amount they were looking for, with 32 days left in the campaign! Remember, though, that this is a kickstarter project, and as such, even though they've succeeding in funding the project, if you participate, you still take the chance that the project might ultimately fail, and you could lose your investment. That said, with ars-imago's commitment to film photography, I think they're pretty likely to see this through.

Color me intrigued....

Processing Film on an iPad

I finally got around to editing some of the pictures from my first roll of film through the Bronica. You can see the originals in the post Roll 1619. It seemed "natural" to open the images on my computer, and edit them in On1 Photo RAW, and in fact, I did. But then I got curious about the results of editing them on my iPad instead, so I thought I'd see what I could do with my favorite iPad photo app, Snapseed.

I was actually happier with the results I saw, on screen anyway, with the Snapseed-edited images than I was with the ones I did on the computer. For instance, let's take a look at the picture of the tree and the fence:

From left to right, the original flat scan, the image edited in On1 Photo RAW, and the image editied in Snapseed. With Snapseed, I was easily able to create a pseudo-HDR image that displays good detail in both shadows and the sky. I could get a great sky in On1 Photo RAW, but I couldn't get the level of detail I wanted in the shadows. I experienced similar results with most of the other images.

The street scene I shot in Frederick was easier to deal with in On1 Photo RAW. In this case, the Snapseed image is on the left. I got a little more "punch" and character with Snapseed, but I think that has more to do with the different screens than anything else.

In any case, even with the relatively low resolution scans (they're about 4800 pixels on each side, or 23MP), there's an incredible amount of detail in these images. At 100%, you can clearly read the license plate on the white car, and even make out the times on the "No Parking" sign.

I'm really pleased with the results of the first roll through the Bronica. I'm really looking forward to using it more and more in the future.

Roll 6919

As reported a few days ago, I sent the first roll of film from the Bronica off to be developed. I just received word that my pictures were ready for download. While none of the shots are spectacular photographs -- I really just wanted to make sure everything was working correctly -- I actually got some half-decent images. 10 of 12 are presentable "straight out of camera". Of the other two, one had a bad exposure reading, and the other, too slow a shutter speed for me to hand hold.

So here they are, straight from the processor:

The first three images were made in Frederick, using the 50mm lens, and the rest were made in Gettysburg. Images three through six with the 80mm lens, and seven through nine with the 150mm lens. I used the 50mm for the last three shots.

As I said, a couple are far less than perfect, but most of them are at least pleasing, and show that everything works pretty much as it should. And, with a little post work, I'd consider at least a couple of them actual "keepers"!


After lunch with friends this afternoon, we drove up to Gettysburg to take some pictures.

While there, I finished running the first roll of film through the Bronica today, testing the 80mm f/2.8 and 150mm f/4 in the process (I'd already shot the 50mm f/3.5 that was on the camera when I bought it). I also relied on the meter in the prism finder for both automatic and manual exposures.

Everything seems to have worked perfectly, although the meter in the Bronica didn't jibe exactly with the meter in the Fujifilm X10 or the iPhone meter app I've downloaded, so we'll see how things work out when I get the film processed.

I'll send the film off to be processed and scanned in the next couple of days, and will share some results as soon as I have them.

Donna used the opportunity to start familiarizing herself with her new camera. No, she didn't make a switch to a Fujifilm mirrorless body. She upgraded her several-year-old Canon EOS T1i to a new T6i.

Goin' With The [Work]flow - Pt 4

This will not be a terribly exciting post, at least to most of you. And, there aren't going to be any pictures. Sorry.

Last February, I started down the path of improving my photo editing workflow by looking at alternatives to Adobe's Lightroom. In late March, I compared Lightroom with Capture One Pro, and finally, mid-year, I discussed On1 Browse, which is a part of On1 Photo. You can read those commentaries by visiting this link.

It's now the beginning of a new year, and time to implement a new plan for image organization and processing. I've chosen the new On1 Photo RAW product. As important is choosing new software tools, I also need to establish a storage scheme that is as consistent as possible, considering the diverse tools I'll be using for image acquisition -- Fujifilm digital cameras, the new [to me] Bronica film system, and my iPhone.

My thought is that current projects will live on my laptop (with backup copies residing on the drobo). In the past, I've organized by camera, and then by date, with a possible notation in the directory name of the subject. I was also very lazy about any kind of meta-tagging, which made finding images difficult. I kind of had to remember when I took a picture, so I'd know which camera I used, and then, assuming my memory was working, I might find the picture. JPEGs and raw files sat side-by-side in the same directory.

With the Fujis, I've found that I use the raw files less and less, instead relying mostly on the excellent JPEG files out of the camera. So, going forward, I'll be saving the raws in a sub-folder of the JPEGs. If I need to process the raws, they'll be handy, but not intermixed with the JPEGs.

Images from the Bronica will come in as high-resolution scans from the lab, unless I decide to get a film scanner. iPhone shots will be stored in iCloud and referenced in Browse.

Once an image is completed, an export will be stored in folders based on subject, and posted to the web via this website. Finally, there will be hard output -- either individual prints or photo books, or both.

At least, that's the plan.

It's Big. It's Square. It's Bronica!

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I wanted to add medium format film to my "bag", so this morning, we headed over to the local antiques mall, where I knew there might be a couple of good options of cameras to look at. A couple years ago maybe, we met a fellow there named Kenny who had a stall with a number of great deals on old film cameras. His stall is still there, pretty much as I remembered it, along with the same two medium format cameras -- a Mamiya RB67, and a Bronica SQ-A.

Zenza Bronica SQ-A, Zenzanon-PS 50mm f/3.5, AE Prism Finder S, Speed Grip S.
Image made with iPhone 6s and Moment 60 telephoto lens attachment, in completely inadequate light, processed with Photos on the iPhone.

The Bronica is no longer in his stall. As you can see, it got parked in the spot I use to take pictures of fancy kit (our living room couch). Apparently, I was meant to own this camera (or the behemoth RB67), because it's been waiting patiently in the display case for me since I first saw it. So, for a whopping two hundred and forty American dollars (plus tax), I picked up the Bronica SQ-A body, a Zenzanon-PS 50mm f/3.5 wide-angle lens (one of the three that was on my shopping list), the AE Prism finder, and the Speed Grip. Around back is the film back with a 220 insert.

Our next stop was to Service Photo to pick up a fresh PX28 camera battery, a lens cap, and a few rolls of film -- and also to drop of Donna's Canon body for a cleaning. While looking around the store, I did notice that they had an original Canon 5D body at a very nice price. I'll admit I was tempted. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I think that's the nicest full-frame DSLR Canon's ever made.

I'm excited to be building this system; my shopping list, scribbled on a tiny Post-It note, is shown. I wrote the list last night, so it shows the SQ-Ai, but the differences between that and the SQ-A are minor. The SQ-Ai adds a 16-second and "B" shutter speeds, and the ability to do some sort of off-the-film TTL exposure metering when using some sort of flash that I'm sure I'll never be able to find. None of these are features I can't do without, and "dry" tests with my Yongnuo flash system show it works perfectly well.

My initial shopping list includes a couple more lenses to fill out "the trifecta" of a wide angle, a normal, and a short tele (although I think I'll substitute the PS 150mm f/4 for the 200mm lens). I'm going to try to hold out for all of them being the Zenzanon-PS lenses, as I've read that they have better coatings and builds. I also would like to get the waist-level finder in place of the prism finder -- I think I'll prefer that for portrait work, as it will get me out from behind the camera a bit and let me make eye-contact with my victim ... er, subject. I'll also need some 120 film backs/inserts. While the 220 should work okay with 120 film, it's not as convenient, as the wind mechanism doesn't release until the counter reads the correct number of frames -- I'll have to "shoot" a few frames past the end of the roll to get the film completely wound onto the take-up spool, instead of just winding it out.

The SQ system had some other neat accessories available -- the SQi 120J 6x4.5 film back/insert, and a back that allowed shooting panoramas on 35mm film in particular, and a wide range of excellent lenses. It looks like I'm soon to become "one" with KEH, Robert's Camera, and eBay...