on computer and photo equipment
My computer is a Dell. ADSL interface to the internet works in both our homes. A colleague at my former job is indispensable when implementing the data hard- and software.
My home pages have been created in the cheapest possible way by using Front Page Express and Soneras Internet FTP plus a crash course in an institute. On top of that countless hours of trial and error, in proportion 1/5. My Scanner is a HP Photo Smart Scanner, my most expensive investment so far. It is possible to use it for scanning 35-mm film negatives and slides as well as for scanning prints not exceeding 12x17 cm in size.
My first pictures were taken with a Kodak Brownie presented to me by my father in the late fifties, if I remember correctly. In 1963, I got my first 35 mm format camera, a Minolta AL (Roccor PF 45 mm, f 2). Quite a few of the black and white pictures on these pages are shot wit that one. It is still an excellent camera, even though the exposure meter does not work and the focusing is a bit difficult since the camera was once dropped and sustained some damage.
In the 70ies and the 80ies we got two mini film cameras to the family, a Fujica 450 Flash and an Agfamatic 50. It is fair to admit that those were pretty useless. Instead, most of my pictures have been shot with some of my three Minolta 35 mm cameras, the Minolta AL already mentioned, a Minolta AF-Tele compact (38mm, f 2,8 / 60 mm, f 4,3) bought in Montreal 1987 and the SLR Minolta Dynax 7000i, bought 1993 (this was for a short period preceded by a Minolta 3000i which was later passed on to the younger of my sons).
With the SLR I have preferred to use a Minolta zoom lens (80-200 mm, f 4.5-5.6) and a Tamron wide angle lens (2233 mm). The standard lens sold together with the camera (35-80 mm, f 4-5.6) has for some reason not been used to the same extent as the other two. The other day (autumn 2000) I swapped the two tele zooms for one new Tamron zoom carrying the strategic values 28-300mm, f 3.5-6.3. With this I have so far shot just one or two rolls, but the result was excellent. As to the two traded ones, the tele-lens was considered fine, but the 35-80 mm one was told to be "Minoltas poorest effort, though still worse could be found in other brands"!
Together with these lenses I swapped away a Nikon Nuvis Mini APS Camera (25 mm f 4 Macro) acquired 1997 in the Canary Islands and a Samsung 70S zoom compact (35-70mm), as well from 1997 for a new pocket format APS Zoom, Konica Revio Z2. The first impression was good, if you don't mind the red eyes which go with the really small sized cameras. The size is handy.
A Minolta Program 5200i- flash is used from time to time, as also a tripod (Cullman 3230) on rare occasions (flower close-ups). I produce prints with an Epson Stylus Photo 1290 (started with Epson Stylus Color 600). Post cards of 10-25 cm size and 5x8" (127x203 mm) come out well on Olmec A4 Heavywight 230GSM best using Epson Ink Jet Cards, at least with this printer. They are the only ones in these sizes with a semi-gloss/matt finish giving the colours warmth and a touch of "painting".
Following Kameralehti's advice I acquired a set for saving colour casettes to the printer. It had bottles and tubes. The idea was good but I never succeeded in getting the same result as with casettes, the main reason being that the color ink was Lyson's and not Epson's. Both sharpness and contrast were poorer and colours did not match the original ones.
For films I usually and deliberately turn to the inexpensive end: Konica, Fuji, Perutz 100, 200 and 400 ISO. These colour films for prints all have good colours and stable quality. As an amateur, I have not the skill to utilize the quality of expensive films for professionals.
Furthermore, we always read in books on photography that a serious photographer uses slide film exclusively. Only slide film is good enough for competitions and to be reproduced in book print and photo-magazines. With todays methods available, this is of course bullshit. Anyway, all those 99% of us who have not got that much ambition, but find pleasure in being able to see and show our pictures without putting the surroundings into complete darkness, can go on using film for prints.
Moreover, the computer image is stealing a large portion of the cake here. For me, to be able to arrange the best pictures in albums and diaries is still vital and I need also to have the possibility to make prints in the form of postcards to sell, on a small scale. Some of which, by the way, have been printed in books. On top of this, there is this new need for web-site pictures, which can be created without using film at all.
To be honest, in my opinion, this perpetual cry for slide films in professional books is just snobbery invented by the photo establishment. These same books go on on tens of pages to describe how demanding the slide film is, for instance when trying to master contrasts (it is said to have a very "narrow latitude", which means it is difficult to manage extreme light conditions on the same film), not to mention cropping, copying and showing the image. On the other hand the slide film is expected to be at least 20 times as rich in hues as the print and, consequently, the image is brilliant and sparkling in comparison. So, I am no serious photographer. But, if I were, I would argue that this makes it all the more challenging to look for lighting conditions and colours that secure brilliant images when printed on paper as well, since this is by far the most common way to look at pictures.
10. Photo editing
I use four programs:
Google's Picasa, Microsoft's Picture it!, Minolta's Dimage Viewer and Adobe's Photoshop Elements 2.00. Picasa is very handy for quick editing and slide shows. Picture it! is easy to use when you need to put texts to your pictures. In Dimage Viewer I store my original images snd Photoshop I use only occasionally.
Having once tried a cheap Agfa digital camera - which was broke after 10 picts - I bought a Minolta Dimage 7i , 5Mpix, on the Canary Islands. After that my other cameras have been used only occasionally. So, most of what is written above is history. What I appreciate most is the mechanical zoom, equivalent to 28-200 mm. What I don't, is the fact that it, while being one of the fastetst digital cameras, still does not compete with a normal camera. It takes the picture just the split second after you have pressed the button, not when you do it! So, you have to learn a new technique, where you anticipate what is going to happen.
The digi flash is Minolta Program 2500D.
11. To sum it up, mine is the background of a typical amateur, and I am proud of it.
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