All posts filed under: Cameras

Harry Burton. The man who shot Tutankhamun.

In late 2017-early 2018, The Collection – a modern extension to Lincoln’s Usher Gallery – held a small exhibition of the photographs of Harry Burton. Who? You may ask. The Story of Harry Burton. Without doubt  Burton, himself an Egyptologist, was considered the finest photographer of antiquities of his day. It was natural, therefore, for him to be chosen by Carter as the photographer who would document the excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings near to Thebes – modern day Luxor. Harry Burton – on the left of the picture above – is shown with Howard Carter at the dig site in the Valley of the Kings. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Who was Burton? Where did he come from?

Set yourself free from the megapixel race.

The megapixel race, with its pursuit of sharpness, seems unending. Is this really important or is it just a callous marketing ploy used to make the last iteration of whizzy cameras redundant? Here’s an interesting fact… According to Thorsten von Overgaard, the Danish writer and photographer; – “When we were using film ( I assume here he is talking about 35mm film) those images equalled around 18-20 Megapixels.”   And I ask – didn’t those images set our perception of “Sharp”? – Where does that leave us with modern digital cameras being 24, 37 and 100 Mega Pixels? – Thorsten argues those extra pixels are simply “overkill”  because as he puts it  “What are we going to do with that level of sharpness – or detail might be a better expression”? Making a print will not evidence those extra pixels. Thorsten argues the only benefit of such pixel size is when you want to use just a portion of the image. He closes his argument with the simple statement of… “If it looks sharp, it is.” I …

Protesting in the torrential rain over low pension increases. Jerez de la Frontera

Going backward​.

I have been taking pictures since I was around 10 years old when I had a Brownie 127 for a birthday. That’s over 60 years ago. Even back then, with this basic camera, I had to have the clip on close up lens adapter. None of those pictures still exist, my mother had a penchant for slinging stuff out you see. All of my clockwork Hornby trains, track, signal boxes etc went the same way. But that’s another story. After a pretty long hiatus, I took up photography again in my early 20’s when I bought a German single lens reflex camera. And so it went on until the present day. One camera after another, foolishly thinking the camera was what produced the picture. Yes, it made the image but the picture is made in the head. Many years, many cameras and many thousands of £’s later I had full Nikon digital professional cameras – yes 2, a range of lenses, flashguns etc. You name it I had it. And then I woke up. I …

Just how much better are today’s cameras?

The image you see above was taken on a freezing cold, steel gray day which the UK seems to get under high pressure in the winter. Light levels are low and very flat. It was under such trying conditions I decided to test a 1930’e Zeiss Ikon 515/2 camera. The test subject was the city where I live, Lincoln in the East Midlands of England. Hardly the South of France on a sunny day but… I used 400asa Ilford XP2 (c41 film) because I could take it into the local Snappy Snaps shop to get it processed quickly. I’m impatient you see. For those who may be interested, the shot was hand-held with a shutter speed of 1/50th of a second and an aperture of f5.6 It barely froze the people who were walking. This is the camera. It’s a folding camera with bellows separating the film and lens planes. It’s odd and clunky but despite being over 80 years old it’s still serviceable and still produces more than adequate images. It has a focus ring, …

Did one camera change street photography?

Remember: ‘Seeing’ is not about cameras. Tony Kubiak, a fine photographer I once knew told me “It doesn’t matter if you didn’t capture it, just so long as you saw it”. The “it” in question at the time was an image I was telling him about; one which I had failed to capture. Anyone involved in the practice of street photography – a subject notoriously difficult to precisely describe as the phrase means many things to many people – will tell you It’s important to carry a camera with you at all times. Some would argue the camera which really changed the way we approached street work is the camera in our mobile phones. And, I suppose, working on the old cliche of “the best camera for the job is one you have with you at the time” as we have our phones with us most of the time it follows that could be the case. Of course, the quality of the image from modern phones (written in 2016) is astounding which adds to the …

Minox sub-miniature camera.

Minox was designed and first made in pre-war Latvia by Walter Zapp , a Baltic German. The company made cameras during the war finally moving to Wetzlar, Germany post war. Though originally designed as a camera for everyman, the high manufacturing cost moved it into the luxury camera market. Of course, we see it more now as a spy camera. Indeed it featured in many a spy film and in reality it was heavily used by  secret services across the globe. It was a very small camera for its day with an excellent lens and close focus ability, making it perfect for document photography. The negatives being only 8mm X 11mm are tiny and could be easily hidden. The perfect spy camera in fact. The model shown here  was made in the mid 50’s. It’s missing its carrying chain. The chain was a vital feature as it’s length was set at the perfect focusing length for document photography. The film comes in a cassette. It’s easy to load and unload. Because of  the small size …

Did it all really start from here…

It’s hard to imagine but the magnificent digital cameras of today started out from this very humble Casio of  1995. Yes! 1995. Only 20 years ago. Odd too isn’t it the manufacturer of the first consumer digital camera  with an LCD screen was more synonymous with calculators than with optical equipment. The Casio QV10, by todays standards was an appalling device. Many people accused it of being very badly designed with bad software and even worse results but, at the time it was the proof of concept that was required to take digital imagery forward. Yes, even by standards of the day the result compared very badly to even those from a cheap film camera. And the cost! I remember buying one and wondered at the time why I was wasting my money on something so bad and expensive. For it’s day, so formative and important was this camera that Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science branded it as being… “Essential historical material for science and technology”. I remember being scoffed at by a …

Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak (VPK)

The first of the soon to be ubiquitous cameras using 127 film, the Vest Pocket was Eastman Kodaks best selling folding camera. 1,750,000 (some say more) were made between the years 1912-1926. This particular camera was made around 1919. It’s not a very good example of the camera. It’s very far from mint. I suppose that’s OK though as I paid only 30 pence for it at a car boot event 30 years ago. Supposedly one of these cameras went to the top of Everest with Irving and George Mallory. Though Mallory’s body was found in 1999 there was no sign of the camera which would have had the missing proof Irving and Mallory were indeed first to the top. The British Journal Photographic Almanac said about the camera… “In the very excellent design and finish of the apparatus we see the familiar determination of the Kodak makers to produce always the best type of a given article. The Vest Pocket Kodak, though taking a very small picture, is nevertheless a thoroughly reliable instrument, and not …