the photoblog

Vivitar 200mm f3,5 – The Tokina Version

This is not a review, it’s really just a first-impression.

The other day I cruised over to the Goodwill in SE Portland and went camera hunting. Well, there was a lot of stuff to choose from. The prices weren’t bargain prices across the board, but there were a few things a worth buying. I bought a lens, another Vivitar lens. Despite Vivitar being something of a household name, they never made actually made their own lenses. They did hire some of the best lens designers they could find and had them manufactured by some best guys in the business.

This particular lens was made by Tokina. Perhaps not the most popular version, but this as far as I can tell is a very good lens. When I bought this M42 screwmount lens I happened to have an expired roll of Kodak MAX 800 35mm film and my Chinon CX II 35mm camera. This camera is not exactly reliable, the shutter sticks and the meter cannot be trusted. This makes things interesting.

I exposed the film I had at e.i. 400 (I should have exposed it at 200) and used Sunny 16 to measure my exposure. This is a large, heavy lens. I tried to keep my shutter speed at 1/250th and 1/500th of a second to keep camera shake at a minimum.

How does this lens handle? This thing is heavy, but it is very well balanced. The focus ring takes a while to get all the way around, but this is perfect for making micro-adjustments. The built in lens hood is a nice feature. I like lens hoods. It has a built-in tripod collar and I am very excited to throw this thing on my Fujifilm mirrorless camera. I ordered an adapter, I think this will be a fine duck lens. This lens appears to be very sharp and I think I will find a place for it in my camera bag. I have been on a long-lens kick for the last for months and this one is a good addition.

High-rises in Old Town

Old Town / Chinatown Portland is perhaps the most diverse collection of residents in the city. It has a healthy mix of the rich and the poor. This part of town is dotted with high-rise luxury condos, apartments and lofts. All of which are security buildings with off-street secured parking. Meanwhile on the street outside these buildings it’s not unusual to see homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks, drug deals, and muggings. You see this part of town has long been notorious for its high crime. This has not stopped the gentrification machine from moving into a desirable area in Portland. It’s close to the river, downtown and the Pearl District. So this is desirable. However the street life has not changed at all. Just the architectural landscape. This new building will be another one of those luxury condos near the river, and hundreds of homeless and street people across Naito Parkway. I guess gentrification takes a while to move out the poor people.

This part of town is completely unrecognizable from what it looked like a decade ago. What made this neighborhood so interesting is being sanitized and homogenized by real estate developers and politicians getting rich at the expense of the city’s character.

Camera: EOS Elan w/ 17-40mm f4L
Film: Kodak Ektar 100

Expired But Not Forgotten

I get asked from time to time, why and where do I get expired film. The where is easy, usually my local analog-camera shop. In Boulder, it was Victory Camera and in Portland I shop at Blue Moon Camera and Machine. I know most people don’t live anywhere near an analog-camera shop, I would also suggest checking out eBay. My only advice, don’t pay more than $2.50 per roll of consumer grade 35mm film and never more than $6 for professional grade expired film.

Personally I prefer to shoot expired color film, it is far more sensitive to time and temperature than B&W film. I also don’t want to know where the film came from or what conditions it had been stored in. I really like to be surprised when the film comes back from the lab. I also like to try off brand and retail-store branded film. It’s nice to know when it expired but it’s not required. I also tend to look for film that seems a little beat up. This really does produce unexpected results. When you are buying a roll of film for $2.22 you can afford to experiment a little.

I have some tips for shooting expired film. Always over expose the film. A general rule that I go by; 1 stop per decade. If the expiry is 15 years past, then 2 stops. When in doubt, pull another stop. This makes for very slow film. Fifteen year old Kodak Supra 100 will now have an exposure index of 25. Just wait for a very bright day and you’ll be fine. Something to remember though, film grain becomes more pronounced as the film ages as well. Since ISO 400 film is usually grainier than ISO 100 film, it stands to reason that the film will get very grainy. I love the grain though.

I would never hesitate to shoot a paying gig on film. I have shot thousands of rolls of film, I am not afraid of getting screwing up the negatives. However, I would never shoot expired or questionable film for a paid gig. I would and have shot out takes and behind the scenes stuff on expired film. Unfortunately, as the professional moves to digital capture, being a photographer is more of dog and pony show than anything else these days. So showing up to a gig with film cameras will get you some looks of confusion. Shooting the job only on expired film will probably get you some disappointed clients. Make sure you have a bag filled with professional grade film and couple of rolls of cheap expired film and you should do just fine.

Happy shooting.

Gothic Towers Above the Willamette River

kodacolorThe St Johns Bridge is the one of my favorite bridges. I figure a bridge this impressive deserves to be photographed on film. The other day I got my hands on some expired film from Blue Camera and Machine just a few blocks from this bridge. I bought several rolls of film for my photowalking. I loaded a Canon EOS Elan with a roll 20 year expired roll of Kodak Gold Ultra ISO 400 film. The glass I used is a Canon 17-40mm f4 L zoom lens. When you get up close to bridge like this, the wide-angle lens is very useful. I do love this lens too. I used to own an EF 20-35mm f3.5-4.5 USM. That was not a great lens, not by a long shot.

As a general rule, I like to over expose my film one-stop for every decade that it’s expired. So in this case, I exposed the film at an exposure index of 100. The lab will processes the film as 400 speed film. I did very little adjustment to the color in Lightroom, I added some sharpening and noise reduction. A little curve adjust for shadow and highlight tone adjustments.

There are subtle color shifts in the film. The noise and grain are very pronounced on the old film, but I think it adds a little character. For the most part, I think this film was most likely stored very well. The images aren’t “perfect”, but film is so amazing by itself.

Alberta Street Cat


This little guy just sat there enjoying the wonderful warm weather that Portland has been experiencing lately.

Shot with a Koni-Omega medium format 6×7 range finder on expired Konica 100 color film.