Monday, December 15, 2008

Seitz says "Goodbye to film.."

The Swiss company famous for the range of film based panoramic cameras like the VR220 and 28-220 announced the discontinuation of these cameras. Sadly enough, but fact. Guess the digital world force them to move on. They still will support the old cameras for support but only sell the digital range (even I am not sure who can afford the D3 or the big boy D617). Wonder if the price of my 28-220 will go up. I am NOT it selling anyway !

On Photo Magazines

No posting for 2 months ! Thats the longest period of silence for this blog. Haven't been active in the field of (panoramic) film, but more in the digital world (sister blog link). Today I share some thoughts about photomagazines. To be honest I stopped buying them long time ago (with few exceptions). Either they are indulging in technical specs and curves of the latest lenses and bodies (some of the curves I cant even interpret) or half filled with advertising of camera shops. I prefer to see portfolios, experiences on assignment and similar content. The only magazine I read regularly is "Photographie" (german language, link), it is a fair mixture of images and technical editorial over the years, even the amount of nude pictures is too much compared to other portfolios. I gave up on magazines from US and UK, which are also rather expensive in Singapore (due to be imported).
(Copyright with LFI and Canon!)

I specifically want to compare 2 camerabrand pushed magazines:
Both magazines are about the cameras the brand produces and images that are made with the same. The 2 cameras brands are completely different league of equipment approaching different type of photographers. LFI rather on the artistic side, for the purist (hobbyist) who can afford it. EOS on the press/sports-photographer and hobbyist side.

Facts LFI (September/October 2008, Germany):
Price Euro 6,50, available at magazine dealers
74 pages
2 pages readers images
30 pages portfolio (2 photographers)
6 pages (fullpage) advertising
6 pages editorial, impressum, news, exhibitions
31 pages on Leica cameras/equipment (some pages shared with 1/2 advertising)

Facts EOS Magazine (April/June 2008)
Price free for selected customers (spend more than x on Canon), available through pay-subscription.
82 pages
8 pages readers images
9 pages (fillpage) advertising
8 pages editorial, impressum, news, exhibitions
8 pages portfolio (1 photographers)
16 pages on Canon cameras/equipment
27 pages learning trail, how-to (mixed with Canon brand equipment)
4 pages background story

Conclusion: None. Both try to advertise their repective brand. Canon focus more on guiding photographers in using Canon cameras. Leica puts the brand itself into the centre. I wont buy both of them because not being neutral or independant (are other magazines neutral?).

Alternatives: (?)
- For technical reviews and comparison I go online to the various photo portals.
- Maybe the Black and White Magazine for the artistic scene of bw photographers and gallerists.

I leave it to you to comment and decide..

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

SHD 100

I got several requests about supply and processing the chinese black and white film SHD from Lucky. I buy them when I travel to China and I let them process by a lab with standard bw process for TMax. For me, this is an experimental film, for playing around or artsy projects, not for serious, crips portraits. Same applies to the Shanghai GP film. They scratch very easily !!
Here the website of lucky (link) and scans of the SHD 100 120 box (copyright by Luckyfilm). Thats all I know about it, sorry folks.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mamiya announce 4x5" adapter for ZD Back

On the Photokina 2008 in September they also announce a large format adapter. But both price and availability is not known yet. If it takes the same time to market it like the back itself we sell in the shelf around 2011. I hope earlier !
(German link)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mamiya ZD Back revised

A rather small revision of the back comes with a internal buffer of double size, which allows to shoot more images in a row. The back also allows remote catpure.
Check Mamiya Japan (link)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tips on storing panoramic cameras

I guess everyone is keeping his treasures in a dry cabinet (at least if you live in a damn humid place like Singapore). Since we have so many cameras (don't we?), it is very unlikely that you bring all your equipment along on a trip. Even more, it happens that a camera is not even used for months.

Tip 1: Batteries suck !
Dont leave batteries inside the body, specifically if you use the el-cheapo type of batteries which tend to vomit their content into the cam.

Tip 2: Move it !
If you have a panoramic camera with a rotating lens (Noblex, Widelux,..), make sure you move this parts occasionally. It happened to me before, that the Noblex didnt turn anymore after 1/2 year of not using it, but giving a squeeky sound.

Sure, this sounds a) like common sense and b) to all cameras anyway. Just want to share personal experience.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 update

Quite a while since I started the monochrome collection of panoramic images at I recently received some requests and decided to continue with the portfolio. I use AirtightInteractive's SimpleViewer which is not too flashy and simple to use. It is free (with a link back to his homepage), but I will buy the Pro version with more settings and the sourcecode to make some personalizations.
Drop by panorama monochrome @
(new Australia and China collection, more to come)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ansco Panorama again

The Ansco Panorama PIX has been sitting on the shelve for quite a while ! Inside a Konica Minolta Centuria 200, damn I still have a box with 100 of this film. Even manged to have shots from 2 continents on one 24 roll. Like my grandma which used one film for 2 birthday and christmas parties. The colors are ugly and its grainy, but never mind it fits well into the Ansco.

Monday, August 18, 2008


OK, I haven't been very active with film lately and the few undeveloped rolls sitting in the black plastic bag for 6 months can tell that. For an average bw film that is not really a big deal, but it seams the Shanghai GP3 does not really like to expose his latent images to the protective layer-paper. Resulting in a nice watermark over all negatives. Lesson to learn. Shot with the Agfa Isolette a while ago... yes, early this year.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Mamiya ZD handheld vs. tripod and mirror lockup

For a while I was thinking the Mamiya is a "tripod only" medium format camera only. As with any other cameras it depends mainly from your lens and shutter speed. So I tried my hands on one subject with different setup and the same settings.
Mamiya AFD II with ZF Back
80mm lens @ F8 and 1/200s
1. With tripod and mirror lockup
2. With tripod
3. Completely handheld only
Result: At this speed I cant recognize any difference. I compared at zoom level of 200%.
I will try with different settings going down to 1/80s.
But: Working with a tripod always ensure you have best possible results !

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Trails in the web

Once you made one footstep in the internet, it will stay like the steps by Armstrong on the moon. I am surprised out of which context I get sometimes requests for images or where I find them, even I dont post millions of pics. Just check out this one at this one at ac "associated content" (link). I have no clue how it found its way there. I dont mind in this case since the copyright is protected, but you should think before uploading images if you potentially want to see them somewhere else. Check out for Viewzi (link) for a very decorative websearch on, uhm.. maybe your name !

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quiet Times

There has not been activity here lately, true ! This shall not be a sign this blog is dead. But the last 2 months I have been rather busy with work and the cameras look sadly out of the dry-cabinet. There is even a couple of undeveloped films waiting to go to the lab. I will go to my favorite lab, Fotohub (, the next few days. Unfortunately the nearby outlet at Bukit Timah closed. So, please stay tuned and I will give you updates on the latest projects.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

You still know what this is ? Yes, red/cyan glasses for viewing 3D stuff. I remember my father having a book 30 years back with theses images. So, this stuff is not exactly new, but lots of fun to experiment with ! I am not sure how to produce these anaglyph pictures before the digital age with "home" tools. At that time photographers were (are still?) using stereolenses (check Loreo at link) or a 2 camera-setup and looked at them with special stereo glasses. Check out this equipment at 3D Concepts (link). I am currently reviving this technology in panoramic terms but with a digital workflow, and because its digital, I move over with this topic to my digital panorama blog at Check out results there.

Compare Novoflex and Panamatic

Not sure if it is fair or if it even make sense to compare this 2 panoramic gears.

Novoflex Panoramaplate
Price: 99.- Euro
Weight: 165 gr
This sturdy german product made of metal allows you to very! smoothly turn with light- and heavyweight cameras. It has no stops but a scale from 0 to 360 degree in steps of 10.

Price: 99.- Euro
Weight: 50 gr
This piece of plastic, which is completely overpriced, turns in steps of 30 degree and allows you to cover 360 degree in 12 steps. It is made for very light consumer cameras working at a fix wideangle setting only. It is patented (!?).

Conclusion: Both products make more sense in a digital workflow. I would always prefer the professional product because of its sturdiness and accurate and smooth rotating ability.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

EPSON 4800 Saga Part 3

A short visit and 171.20 SGD later the skilled EPSON engineer identified heavy clogging and a power clean (which stingy user avoid because plenty of ink goes into the maintenance tank) solved my problem. Maybe the most expensive cleaning I did so far.
Lessons learned:
1) Print once a week
2) Powerclean once a month (thats what EPSON says)
End of todays lesson !

Thursday, May 29, 2008

EPSON 4800 Saga Part 2

Other than previous experience with service centers, EPSON's hotline attended the call and in less than a minute I was talking to the supervisor taking care of the large format printer support.
Since a customer can't carry a printer this size to the service center, they come to your place. Of course, not for free, but within 24 hours I had a quotation for this onsite service. I signed, what else to do, if not continuing pumping ink into the wastage tank ? 170 S$ to drop by ! Lets see what we need to change, its either the pumpcap or the whole printhead. I keep you updated..

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Printing Trouble with the EPSON 4800

Has been a long time since my last entry here. A couple of oversea trips and busy with lots of projects. Anyway we shall continue here. Since my darkroom remains in Germany I started to look for an alternative in 2004. That time first printer generation at a reasonable price (less than 5k) S$) range hit the market that allow to produce prints in archival quality. I bought the EPSON Stylus PRO 4800 in 2005 and I am very happy with the results. Lots of panoramic works I printed with it. I dont print that much but at least once a week to keep the nozzles and the printhead in action. Since I came back from the 2 weeks Germany trip, the printer gave up. Despite full ink tanks he keep on showing clogged nozzles, even after heavy cleaning which sucks truckloads of ink out of the cartridges (1 out of 8 is 140 S$). I suspect the printhead or the pump cap. Gonna call the Epson call centre today, lets see how the saga continues..

Friday, April 18, 2008

Manual Mamiya Sekor ULD C24mm f4

Not sure if you really require a manual for this lens, but anyway, at least it explains the hidden built-in filter for color and bw photography.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Shootout Mamiya ULD C 24mm vs. Arsat (Zodiak) 30mm

The Mamiya ZD keeps on running and finally a new fisheye lens is added to the collection. Currently Mamiya offers the Mamiya Sekor AF 28mm f/4.5 D Aspherical (link) which comes with a hefty price tag of about 5000 U$ (link, coming close to the price of the back itself!). I cant judge the lens, because I cant get my hands on it without selling all my other lenses upfront, but I assume that it is for sure a wonderful piece of glass like most of the other Mamiya lenses.
I purchased the Arsat 30mm with a Mamiya 645 adapter recently from Ukraine (check ebay for offers around 200 to 300 U$) and it is quite OK (at least if you stop down). I fell in love with the Mamiya Mamiya 24mm f/4 Manual Focus Fish Eye Lens which is non-AF (who needs fisheye with AF?) and is no longer produced since ?. It is a rare lens and comes at 1500 to 200 U$ (used). Luckily I catched one at ebay for 1000U$ and I am very happy with it ! I thought it would be useful to have a simple comparison between the 2 lenses.

Test Settings:
Mamiya AFD II, ZD Back at ISO 50
Mamiya Sekor ULD C 24mm f/4 versus Arsat (Zodiak) 30mm f/3.5
Both images at F8 (infinite), 1/125
Adobe Lightroom without sharpening
Original size 5336 x 4008
Downsized at 1400 x 1052 with org 500 x 500 crops from center and outside position.
(Click on the image to see larger version)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Panorama Plate

I am hunting for a panorama plate, a little plate mounted between tripod and head (the head is rather optional) that rotates smoothly and has little x degree markings. For any non VR panoramas that is good enough and you dont need to rotate exactly over the nodal point, if you shoot with a tele lens, eg. 100mm lens. To cut down on weight (by not carrying the big Manfrotto VR head), I am looking around for this simple plate. In the usual Singapore camera shops (Cathay, Alan, The Cameraworkshop,..) I couldnt get a NOVOFLEX Panorama plate (link), that I was aiming for, with a price around 200.- SGD, but I found a 25.- SGD substitute from Lenspen (link). OK, I am not serious, its not a serious replacement, but I will give it a try until I get my hands on a Novoflex.
I find it a bit ambitious to say "
Use with any tripod and any camera", I will mount the Mamiya AFD on it, guys !
But I really like this statement: "
Take as many pictures as you need to cover what you to show." That puts the worldwide effort to create panoramic pictures into 1 sentence. Great !

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mamiya ZD Forum

Searching for a forum revealed none, so I started a new Yahoo techgroup for anything about the Mamiya ZD. Join at

Monday, March 17, 2008

ISO Challenge for Mamiya ZD Back

Most important facts about the digital Mamiya ZD back:

Digital back for Mamiya 645AF/AFD/AFD II and RZ67 Pro IID
36mm x 48mm, Full Frame RGB Square-structured CCD (Dalsa)
approx. 21.80 Million Pixels, active approx. 21.50 Million Pixels
(Mamiya Link)

Yesterday in the early evening I challenged the back, resp the CCD chip in a low light high contrast situation and compare results in ISO 50 and ISO 400.
Conclusion: The dynamic range is amazing, but just dont touch the ISO button (fix glue it to 50) !

Setup: Tripod with cable release and mirror lockup. Adobe Lightroom without any sharpening or noise removal.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Test Images Mamiya ZD Back

I will not indulge in some scientific test series which steal my value time to take photographs, but I created some sample shots with all my current (5) lenses to get a bit an idea how the lens perform. Yes, you are right it should be a range of f-stops for all lenses to compare 2.8 vs. 32 and center vs outer part of the lens. Maybe later (i doubt so).

Mamiya AFD II with ZD Back (22Mp, image 5.328 x 4.00o pix)
Gitzo Tripod at same location
ISO 50, F8
Mirror Lockup and cable release

Untouched 8bit Tiff from Raw (Mamiya Digital Photostudio)
Result saved as JPG (8), 1.000 x 751 pix with 100% (400 x 300 pix) detail

Mamiya AF 55/2.8 (Mamiya Link)
Mamiya AF 80/2.8 (Mamiya Link)
Mamiya Macro 120/4. (Mamiya Link)
Note the effect on the right border which appears randomly.
No explanation yet.

First experiences with the Mamiya ZD Back

Any given (digital) camera model (more or less recent model) in the market is discussed on the web, somewhere in Yahoo groups or similar. Not so the ZD, of course the traditional Mamiya 645's are very common and you find plenty of hands-on info.
After a couple of rainy days I finally managed to bring the ZD out for some test shooting.

Mamiya AFD II, ZD Back, 120/4 Macro, 80/2.8, 55/2.5, 150/3.5 (plus Arsat 30/3.5 with adapter)
Gitzo Carbon tripod.

Very first (partly emotional) impressions (not based on objective technical tests yet):
  • The resolution and level of detail is amazing.
  • A very serious mirror sound on a "digital" camera. Not suitable for observing birds.
  • The screen is ridiculous small. Any 200$ cam has a bigger screen (but not 22Mpix).
  • Reviewing images is painful. But some backs dont even have a screen (at least the older ones)
  • It is slow. Of course, its MF, not point-and-shoot for auntie Ann.
  • It creates that "slower" and more appreciative way of working in MF.
  • Why do I need AF lenses ?
  • Why cant I lock the buttons to prevent the back from switching on by itself in the bag.
  • It looks good. The AFD II body look sturdy and professional.
  • Working with a tripod gives you so much more control (but removes speed).

With this camera you quickly will find some new old friends:
  • Sturdy tripod.
  • Cable Release.
  • Mirror Lockup.
  • ISO50 (any other ISO higher than 100 with this back is useless).
  • Spare battery.
  • Big CF cards and lots of them (or image tank).
  • Another camera if you are in a hurry.
More (technical) results follow.

(Mamiya AFD II, ZD Back, Arsat 30mm, Chinese Garden Singapore)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Free Advertising

Thanks for adding this little Headlines editorial in the Expat Living Magazine in the March 2008 issue. A lifestyle magazine targeting the expat community in Singapore.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First Hands-On Report Mamiya ZD (back)

This blog is about panorama photography and anything on film. The Mamiya ZD digital medium format back is 100% digital, but it allows you to work hybrid, going out with a film back and the digital back. I wouldnt start another blog for hybrid stuff, so I put all the reports, comparison and experience write-ups here.

I purchased a Mamiya AFD (I) a while ago with some AF lenses hoping to get my hands on a ZD back sooner or later. The current weak U$ helps a lot, at least anyone outside U.S. Price comparison you can do by yourself by browsing through the catalogs of Adorama, BHPhoto and others.

Only few websites give feedback about the back or show sample images. I relied on a couple of images in lower resolution at flickr and some reports on The Luminous Landscape.

The Mamiya ZD is the entry point to digital medium format photography, it is the budget version of the other backs from Sinar, Leaf, Imacon (Hasselblad) and PhaseOne. Btw. Mamiya went into an alliance with PhaseOne last November (see Rob Galbraith DPI). I am not sure what is going to happen, Mamiya to stop their own back production ? But PhaseOne sure will not enter the budget price market either. Lets see what will happen. Strategy Game time !

Interesting is the fact that the back is not the latest in town, Mamiya started somewhere in 200? with the R&D and finally reveilled it at Photokina 2004 ! Thats a four year old back (?!). Only 1 year later they released the first sample images. Somewhere in 2007 they released the Mamiya ZD (integrated into a body) and later the same year finally the back hits the shops. Not sure what took them so long, but it was woth waiting though !

I will post more sample images and reports soon. Stay tuned.
Until that you can browse the (old) reports at
The Luminous Landscape:

(The crap picture above is made with a Kodak V705)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Camera Diet

During my recent camera inventory exercise, I took note of the weight of all pieces. Fact: I will never be able to bring all my equipment to a trip or shooting.

I try to carry the complete..
.. Zenza Bronica ETRS stuff: 3,5 kg
.. Hasselblad Xpan: 1,4 kg
.. Fotoman with 2 lenses: 3,3 kg
.. Canon DSLR with 5 lenses and 4 batteries: 8 kg
.. Mamiya AFD with 2 backs and 4 lenses: 4,3 kg
.. Pentacon Six with 5 lenses: 4,1kg
(to be added: film, tripod, filter)

Lightest piece: Nikkor 50/1.8 with 150 g
Heaviest piece: Canon L IS 70-200 with 1750 g

Conclusion: Better check the maximum weight you
a) can carry comfortably for long period.
b) can bring onboard a plane when traveling overseas (normally about 7kg max in eco)
and also plan ahead what you want shoot and how flexible you want to be ! More stuff, more weight, less flexible ! Even on a roadtrip where you can virtually bring as much as you want,
try not to exaggerate your flexibility efforts.

Enough mathematics for today. Go out and shoot (without becoming a donkey)
PS: I am on the way to Hong Kong this weekend to get one more piece of bulkiness. Will update you and the inventory accordingly.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Camera obesity

I am sure some of us camera geeks collected so much equipment that you need to go on a camera diet if you intend to go to overseas fieldtrip restricted by the maximum handcarry luggage in a plane or even local trip limited by the weight you can carry. The pictur below show someone's dry cabinet with equipment as old 60 years to 13 Mpix cameras and hightech IS lenses. I started to inventorize all my equipment to get an overview (as well for the insurance in case sh.. happens).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I love to see other photographers work, especially when they work in a similar field or do same style like bw panorama for example. It teaches you, it gives you ideas and creative sparks, it never stops. For this reason I also joined various photo communities, but leaving most of them after a while because there is no added value following the stream of endless praise. The purpose is to criticize, to learn and to push each other to the limit (creatively, not by personal offense). Why some communities have a good start and then the gibberish cloud joins in and all becomes so wonderful.
A small random extract on various photos:
  • Fantastic. Love the light and the colors.
  • Very, Very nice!
  • Beautiful job with this one.
  • i love this shot
  • nice job
  • Beautiful colors and composition
  • This is absolutely stunning.
  • Wonderful, cute and clear. Nice shot!

I dont ask you to talk down all images. But praise and critic should be balanced. If all images turn to be so extraordinary, then its all extraordinary average. I give frank feedback, even sometimes its like art, subjective.

Enforced Cropping

I get to do a small editorial about my work in a magazine (non-photographic), but due some layout restriction they are not able to make use of real life panoramic aspect ratio of 1:3 and longer. So I had no choice of cropping one panorama. It feels like chopping off something. See by yourself. No, its not the panorama I wanted to shoot, even its a classic 1:2 format. But in that case, no choice. Free advertisement.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Arsat (Zodiak) 30/3.5 manual (english)

What to say ? Its the manual of the lens in english language.

Made in Ukraine (Arsat 30/3.5)

I love this Russian cameras and lenses. Finally I ordered another tank-like piece of glass from Kiev ! This is my 4th or 5th ordering from there via ebay and it always worked out, not scam, no spam !
You get it only with the usual K6 mount, but together with an adapter you can mount it to the most common camera types. I ordered together with a Mamiya M645 adapter for my 645AFD. I already own a Canon EOS adapter, as well can use it on my collection of BIG SIX and Pentacon cameras.

I am wondering how this could pass customs, see the customs declaration sticker with cyrillian characters .
I will add manual, test results on various cams soon. The lens is not produced anymore, you still get new ones from various sources. Drop me an email, will give you a good ebay seller.

Made in Ukraine Fancy pouch and filtersTogether with the Mamiya 645 80mm lens.
(and with me in the background, I know..)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Cranky FT2 FIlm Transport

Happy new year 2008 to all my readers. I hope you continue to enjoy the panoramic journey with me !

I didnt manage to shoot with the FT2 (link) because they film cartridges are so tight when inserted in the camera (see third image the right cartridge) that I cant forward the film, it rather tear at the left side (see image 4). I rasp a bit on the cartridge, now it can be inserted with out too much pressure and seems to work !